Why is a psychologist sometimes necessary in a divorce case involving children?

In this new post, given our role as lawyers specializing in family law, we want to focus on something that is sometimes necessary in divorce cases involving minor children: psychological intervention.

To issue a psychosocial opinion in family proceedings, the intervention of forensic psychologists is required, who serve as an auxiliary element in the judgment of family law cases. In separation proceedings involving minor children, either parent or the judge can request this expert evidence, a so- called psychosocial report. In these cases, a psychologist and a social worker will assess the parents and children and issue an opinion with custody recommendations. In the most serious cases, such as those involving neglect, the forensic psychologist’s recommendation may be used to revoke custody from both parents and even suspend their parental rights.

The existence of these judicial teams isn’t covered by any legal provision. In fact, psychosocial teams are personnel hired by the corresponding regional government and paid using public funds instead of by whoever requires their intervention. However, this doesn’t prevent the parties involved from also being able to provide private reports issued by expert psychologists hired by the parents.

Expert evidence

This expert opinion (be it public or private) is the key evidence that the
judge uses to determine which measures best represent or favor the
children’s best interests. This kind of evidence can be requested in cases
involving:

● Separation
● Divorce
● Modification of definitive measures
● Guardianship
● Adoption
● Foster care

At ICN LEGAL we remind you that in any case, the psychosocial report must
include the entire family system, all of its members, and analyze the
different interactions established between them. All of this is necessary so
that the information provided to the court is helpful in terms of making the
corresponding decision that most benefits the children and teens involved.

The role of the SATAF

In Catalonia, we have the SATAF (Servei d’Assessorament Tècnic en l’Àmbit de
Família), a family technical assessment service. It is part of the Catalonian
Government’s Department of Justice and its primary role is to respond to
judicial requests for technical advice from specialized courts as well as the
Family Court of First Instance, the Court of First Instance and Preliminary
Investigation, the Court for Violence Against Women, and the Provincial
Courts of Catalonia.

Each report issued by this service’s specialists must include psychosocial
analysis and assessment not only of the spouses or couple in conflict, but of
the entire family group. Their only focus is to assess family conflicts from a
non-legal perspective, taking emotional bonds and family roles into
account. The professionals who write the report, in legal terminology, are
the experts.

As lawyers who are former judges, we are fully aware of the importance of
these reports and adequately value them in family law cases involving
minors.

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