Child’s Therapist- Legal System

I often have parents who tell me that their child’s therapist supports their position and insist that I tell the Court and the Attorney for the Child to be sure and take that position into consideration before rendering a recommendation, position or decision.

For over 30 years, with NO exception, therapists are seldom the supportive expert that my clients believe them to be.

This is not to say that a good therapist is not helpful. They can be:

  1. They can help the child understand and deal with the custody arrangement. Including one they may not like.

  2. They can offer therapeutic sessions between parties.

  3. They can work with parties to develop a parenting schedule.

But don’t be fooled.  This seldom results in their being a very good witness for you if things break down.

My clients do not believe me when I explain to them that therapist generally:

  1. Treat the child and do not want to damage the therapist relationship by getting involved in the court proceeding.

  2. Cannot be an expert for parenting plans as they have not done formal evaluations for that purpose or spent enough time with all parties.

  3. Are not willing or able to offer a professional opinion as an expert.

  4. If testify, often rendering something supportive comment regarding the opposing parent. Therapists are generally all about both parents having a relationship, not winning a legal case.

It is also VERY important to note that the therapist does not disclose to the parent all that they learn or know.  I often have therapists who disagree with my client’s position, however, do not feel it is helpful to discuss that with the client as it does not further the treatment of their client.  The takeaway here: YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE THERAPIST IS TRULY THINKING!!!! 

Recently I sent the following email to a child’s therapist.  I did so as I had a client who insisted that I had to make the Attorney for the Child and Court understand that her child was being detrimentally affected by Dad’s behavior and that the therapist couldn’t wait to tell everyone that on behalf of the child. This is how it went…

Dr. ________:  Can you please clarify some points for me. 

Are you able to testify as to the following if needed: 

Do you have a professional opinion as to what is best for a custody situation or parenting time. 

Do you have a professional opinion as to whether your client is being influenced by either party or by their behavior as to his desire to live with Mom. 

Do you have a professional opinion as to any negative effects the  current parenting schedule  would or does have on your client.

 Please feel free to add anything else you believe relevant or important for me to know.  I look forward to talking with you next week.  Thank you.



I am not in a position to testify or provide opinion as to any of those items.

When first meeting with my client, the purpose was to function as my client’s treating therapist, with no role in custody or parenting plan determinations. I intend to maintain that role, so any information I provide would be factual and likely redundant.

Thank you,