MckenzieBlog

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Contact

by McKenzie on March 4, 2010

in McKenzie Friend Comment,McKenzie Friend News

This article is likely to offend most people who read it, and I don’t make apology for that as most people who read this blog are legally minded people including those in the legal profession, judiciary and expert witness pool. It is their Karmic duty to be offended for some of the questionable things they have done in their careers that resulted in a child losing contact with a parent and that parent’s family.

The latest contact denying tactic that seems to be doing the rounds is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is increasingly being relied upon as a reason why a parent cannot have contact with their child(ren). It’s turbocharged ‘mothers anxiety’, and can bring the shutters down on contact, or more properly keep the gate that was once ajar closed on contact for good.

Here’s how it works…

Mother’s says she was a victim of domestic violence and doesn’t permit contact, no urgent fact finding is held to protect child’s relationship with father and all contact with child ceases. Many months pass with adjournment after adjournment and judge taking a ‘huff and puff’ approach to coercing mother to permit contact.

Eventually contact starts again regardless if DV proven or unproven.

Mother realises that contact is going to ‘bed’ in and suddenly decides that she may be suffering with PTSD and cant possibly countenance contact until diagnosis and treatment, the latter part of which she cant see happening for an unspecified time. An expert selected by her solicitor and paid for by legal aid agrees with mother in a report, and it all gets kicked into the long grass, or more properly into the abyss. Father doesn’t have the resources to instruct his own expert. Appeal court  would rightly conclude that decision was open to judge on evidence heard

Game over.

Or is it? Let’s rewind a bit…

The corollary of this should surely be that in the absence of the mother engaging in therapeutic treatment aimed at restoring contact the court should consider removing the child from the mother if she is so impaired that she cannot tolerate contact?

If only it worked like that as the hired gun expert can’t agree with that position as he realises that there will be no more referrals from solicitor A who has instructed him or her many times. Or maybe he just doesn’t believe it?

I am sure our readers who work in family law have heard or been involved in an impasse such as this.

A potential solution to this is for the British Psychological Society and other bodies to ensure that a substantial pro bono commitment is part and parcel of membership, and make it accessible to all, including litigants in person?

Remember where you heard it first…

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