This is one of the most emotionally charged areas of litigation. Child custody and visitation are among the most controversial, least understood, most unpredictable, and highly complex areas dealt with in Family Law. Attempting to communicate the nuances of representation in this field is challenging. There is simply no substitution for significant experience in the field, knowledge of the law, the field of psychology, the field of mediation and therapy, and the individual preferences of the Judge hearing your case. There is no such thing as a foregone conclusion in child custody and visitation issues!All child custody and visitation cases are unique. The experienced Family Law attorney knows how to ask the right questions, prepare the case appropriately, evaluate the case, and give the client appropriate advice as to chances of success and the possibility of resolution without trial. The attorneys at PBA believe it is important to always put the needs of the child first. We are always aware a good settlement without litigation is generally better than the sometimes unpredictable nature of litigation. We take into consideration the cost of litigation on the parties and the children. At the same time, we are also aware that these are critical life choices and the decisions made in court are often significant forks in the Road of Life which can affect the parties and, more importantly, the children for the majority of their life. Accordingly, decisions relating to child custody and visitation are not made lightly or without proper preparation and evaluation. If the needs of the child would be sacrificed by entering into an agreement, the agreement will not be entered into.
Need for Psychological Assessment
Oftentimes in child custody litigation, issues are raised about the ability of a parent to care for children because of a pre-existing psychological condition. That condition can be inherent or it can be situational. That situation can be caused by outside stimuli, such as drugs or alcohol, or it can be one inherent in the nature of the individual. Psychological assessments can take into consideration any allegations in that regard and provide a clear recommendation to the Family Law Court. A psychological assessment can also consider the needs of minor children in awarding custody and visitation, taking into consideration the maturity level of the child, the difficulties in sharing the child without the necessity of a court order, the external factors such as age, habitation, working hours, and the internal factors specifically including the psychological bond between parent and child, and the ability to share. A majority of the time the recommendations by the psychologist are adopted by the parties with little, if any, modification or change. It is a mechanism, therefore, where all issues of concern can be more appropriately and accurately assessed in a non-litigious forum. It is a vehicle which often will resolve cases.
There are, however, cases when the evaluation is not a true reflection of the facts of a particular case. This may be due to the psychologist relying on false or inaccurate information, or pertinent facts being inappropriately minimized or ignored. In such cases litigation may be necessary to overcome the recommendation of the psychologist. PBA has access to expert testimony for these delicate cases.