Aug 5, 2019 by Foresight

When is a Psychiatric Report Needed in Family Court?

Family Law is a vast branch of law which incorporates a great deal of sensitive cases. From divorce, and debt, to domestic and sexual violence or abuse, child abductions and mental illness; it is not uncommon for a solicitor to call upon the assistance of a psychiatric expert witness. In essence, it is the role of a psychiatrist expert witness to prioritise and report upon the mental health of the solicitor’s client. From autism to acute depression and anxiety to PTSD, mental illness covers over 200 diagnoses, each with their own manifestations and medical treatment options. When solicitors require a psychiatric report for family court, our case managers access Foresight’s network of targeted and court-ready UK psychiatric expert witnesses. This week, we take a closer look at some of the cases which require the instruction of psychiatric expert witness.

What is the Purpose of a Psychiatric Report?

A psychiatrist expert witness may be asked to perform one of a range of psychiatric assessments which are deemed necessary for the case. These assessments are supported by a detailed and accessible psychiatric report. It is the psychiatric report which documents the medical conclusions made by the psychiatrist expert witness. Used directly by the solicitor and shared with the court, a psychiatric report can provide significant evidence which, in supporting fair trial, serves to protect those vulnerable individuals involved with the case.

Psychiatry Report for Parenting Capacity

Often, Family Law solicitors are required to provide a psychiatric report which documents whether the presence of a mental illness will negatively impact a parent’s ability to do just that. The circumstance under which this type of psychiatric report is necessary varies. It may be that a parent is an addict of drugs or alcohol, for example. A psychiatrist expert witness will be able to perform a series of psychiatric assessments to decide whether the parent is capable of caring for their child/children alongside medical treatment and perhaps support from other social care professionals or family members. This may also be the case where a parent is suffering with post-natal depression or puerperal psychosis.

Sometimes, a psychiatrist expert witness will be appointed in a divorce case. Where either parent or a child suffers from a mental illness, the psychiatrist expert witness can determine whether a parent is fit to have custody of the child or children. Documenting their findings in a psychiatry report, it can be used as evidence by the solicitor to support their client’s right to custody.

Psychiatric Report for Domestic Violence and Abuse Cases

In cases of domestic violence and abuse, the requirement for a psychiatric report may be for either the defendant or prosecution. In the case of the defendant, a psychiatric assessment may result in the diagnosis of a mental illness. It might have been previously untreated and therefore uncontrolled at the time of the violent or abusive behaviour, or their mental illness may have become exacerbated prior to the violent activity. In either case, a solicitor can only ensure fair trial with a fully informed court. A psychiatric report for family law, shared with the court, can do just that.
In some cases the prosecuting client may already have a mental illness and were therefore more vulnerable to the violent or abusive actions of a family member. It may also be the case that as a result of domestic violence or abuse, the client has developed a mental illness. From PTSD to acute anxiety, by diagnosing a mental illness and documenting it in a psychiatry report, the psychiatrist expert witness can support the delivery of justice to the solicitor’s client.

Appointing a psychiatrist expert witness can be a time-consuming task for solicitors who do not often have the luxury of spare time. With a call to your dedicated Foresight case manager, we will provide you with the CVs of the best-suited psychiatry expert witnesses for your case. Get in touch with the team at Foresight Clinical Services today.



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