Aug 5, 2019 by Foresight
When and Why a Child Psychologist Expert Witness Should be Appointed in a Case
The instruction of a child psychologist expert witness can be invaluable to a case which involves vulnerable minors. In a multitude of cases including divorce, domestic and sexual abuse, trafficking, and criminal defence, a child psychologist expert witness may action their expertise in psychological assessments, and in the comprehension and treatment of developmental, psychological, and behavioural issues. Unsurprisingly, child psychologists have dedicated their studies and clinical practice to the treatment of children and adolescents and thus have a profound and specialised experience that an adult psychologist expert witness cannot necessarily offer to a case. There are many more reasons to appoint a child psychologist expert witness, and as providers of the most targeted UK expert witnesses, we want to share when and why a solicitor should look to do just that.
Assess the Cognitive Development of Children and Adolescents
Much of a child psychologist’s work will be performing in depth psychological assessments in order to determine the cognitive development and consequential behavioural traits of children and adolescents. Unlike adults, children undergo enormous developmental changes throughout their childhood. These changes include physical, hormonal, social and cognitive development. Notably, psychology assessments will consider any external factors, such as familial security and family history which may impact or hinder that development. The child psychologist expert witness can use their skills to assess the behaviour of the child alongside their cognitive capacity and development. The conclusions drawn from these assessments may prove substantial to the given case and the protection of the minor.
Cases Which May Require Child Psychologist Expert Witness
There are a number of cases requiring the assistance of a child psychology expert witness since it is such a complex discipline. Where a child has suffered or witnessed domestic, sexual and/or substance abuse, the instruction of a child psychologist may uncover significant information that the vulnerable individual has been unable to share with other officials involved in the case. In Family Law, for example where children are involved with divorce or social services intervention, a child psychologist expert witness can evaluate the parenting capacity through assessments of the child or children. Additionally, a child psychologist expert witness will often be required in criminal defence cases where their psychological assessments can help the court to understand the motivations behind the criminal activity. These findings can support fair trial when shared with the court since an informed final decision may be made.
When it is necessary that a child give testimony in court, the child psychologist expert witness can also determine to what extent their testimony can be taken as fact; this is equally so pertaining information disclosed as evidence in an interview scenario.
Child Psychology Expert Report and Opinion
It is the role of the child psychology expert witness to produce a psychology report, documenting their involvement in the case, their methods of assessment, the results, and their conclusions. This report can then be used directly in court. Importantly, the report is written in a way which, whilst providing the specialised information, it is accessible to those who do not share their level of expertise. The child psychologist expert witness may be required to include a fitness to plead report where they can use their experience to assess whether the minor is able to partake in the court proceedings with consideration of their mental health or behavioural difficulties.
Child psychologist expert witnesses will often be asked to give their opinion in court. As an expert in their discipline, the court respects and recognises the importance of their opinion. Their opinion, which will consider the wellbeing of the child, may help to inform the decision of the court.
Children are too often victims of circumstance. The involvement of a child psychologist expert witness serves not only to attain vital information for the court case, but to protect and ensure the safety of the minor. To help you understand whether a child psychologist expert witness is required, and to find the best suited expert witness for your case, get in touch with one of our experienced case managers.
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