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When a treater is drafted into custody evaluation
A few days ago a patient left a message on my voice mail indicating that a parenting evaluator wants to talk to me by telephone before recommending a parenting plan in a marital dissolution case. The patient's attorney already has a copy of my initial psychiatric evaluation (which I provided at no charge) of the patient who never returned for further treatment.
Having considerable experience myself in conducting forensic evaluations (But not parenting plans -- I do not have child psychiatry training.), I have to wonder about the evaluator's motivation. I suspect she will charge a hefty hourly rate, so why not bill for time spent talking to me as well as for reviewing the record. But with no plan to compensate me for my time. I can certainly demand a fee, but I know the patient has very little money.
I also wonder what information I could possibly supply beyond what my evaluation contains. In particular I know that from a judiciary perspective I am a fact witness, not an expert, so I will have no opinions, particularly about the patient's suitability as a parent. I can easily imagine the evaluator asking a naive treating professional what they "think" of the patient's parenting capabilities or impairment. Since my own evaluation of the patient included no such assessment I believe it would be unethical for me to offer an opinion.
In my own forensic practice I rely on written (keyed?) records in forming my opinions. Undocumented information provided orally is subject to error and interpretation. Why should parenting evaluators require more than the patient chart anyway?
I responded to the patient by indicating that I would reluctantly participate in a phone interview provided I am paid for one hour of my time, minimum, but I reminded the patient that I would likely have nothing to add to what my evaluation already includes.
What would you do?