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How May a Doctor’s Opinion on a Child’s Mental Health Affect Time Sharing and Parental Responsibility in a Florida Divorce?


Children whose parents are going through a divorce sometimes need to seek professional help to cope with the emotional and mental toll of losing their family unit as they have known it. This may be in the form of seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health provider. These professionals may make conclusions about the continued care of the children after evaluating them, and these conclusions may be presented in court when the judge is making time sharing and parental responsibility decisions.

This kind of information only gets introduced in a particular case if there is an issue concerning the children. For example, because the court makes decisions about time sharing and parental responsibility by looking to the best interests of the child, a parent may seek to show that it is not in the best interest of the child to be placed with the other parent because the child’s psychiatrist expressed an opinion to that effect.

However, even when the psychiatrist has been treating the child for some time, and has a strong opinion as to how the child would be affected, the psychiatrist’s cannot make the ultimate decision about what will happen to the child if one parent is given primary responsibility or extensive time sharing. These ultimate decisions must be made by the judge alone. So even with a child’s doctor saying that time sharing with a parent would be detrimental to a child, it does not automatically mean that the child will not be required to see that parent.

When a parent seeks to limit another parent’s time with a child for medical reasons, it sometimes comes down to a battle of the experts. For examples, if one parent alleges that it would be detrimental to the child to be forced to visit the other parent for mental health reasons, the other parent can hire an expert to show that the opposite is true. A parent may even try to show that even if the child’s psychiatrist believes that the child would suffer, it is because the child is being subjected to parental alienation.

The judge makes the ultimate decisions on what will happen by considering all the evidence and coming to a conclusion as to how to best protect the child. Therefore, a parent who wants to protect the children by limiting contact with the other parent has to make an adequate showing of the danger presented.

Parents should also remember that although they are having problems between them, a court may still award each parent significant time with the children. If there are allegations that the child is being abused, there may be more of a case to keep the child away from the parent. However, if the only allegations of abuse are between the parents, the judge may not necessarily limit parental contact with the children.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

If you are concerned about the emotional, mental, or physical health of your child if the other parent is awarded joint or sole parental responsibility or time sharing, you should contact our experienced child custody lawyers at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida, for a consultation on the steps you can take to protect your children.



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