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Paging Doctor Gigs and other Family Law Practicioners

How useful is a knowledge of personality disorders in your p unlearnedhand02/20/17
Useless. The most common claim in family law is that the oth cocolawyer02/20/17
I would say it's mostly useful to screen out problem clients guyingorillasuit02/20/17
I've noticed that with some mentally disordered, you notice unlearnedhand02/21/17
I disagree and think knowledge of personality disorders in a unlearnedhand02/21/17
In my neck of the woods, it costs about $2500 to have a psyc hankstamper02/21/17
The knowledge is helpful to the extent that it assists you i anothernjlawyer02/21/17
I think divorce lawyers could use to learn a bit about menta onehell02/21/17
Its good for cross, you will know which buttons to push and nazlaw03/07/17
unlearnedhand (Feb 20, 2017 - 6:55 pm)

How useful is a knowledge of personality disorders in your practice?

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cocolawyer (Feb 20, 2017 - 7:09 pm)

Useless. The most common claim in family law is that the other side is a)postpartum, b)undiagnosed bipolar, c) personality disorder, d) manic, e)suicidal etc. You as an attorney with knowledge of personality disorders is kind of useless.

Telling the court "Your honor as a PHD in blah blah they demonstrate all the signs of blah blah," is going to be as useful as telling the court X is crazy. Your not going to be an expert witness. Seems to me to be a waste.

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guyingorillasuit (Feb 20, 2017 - 8:51 pm)

I would say it's mostly useful to screen out problem clients. As coco said, the Judge is not going to give you extra credibility if you start telling the court your client's spouse is insane based on your own education and experience.

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unlearnedhand (Feb 21, 2017 - 2:53 am)

I've noticed that with some mentally disordered, you notice them and cut them off ASAP. Then with another class, you can get away with representing them as long as you take the lead. With others, they end up biting the hand that feeds eventually and these are the worst because they hide the crazy the best.

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unlearnedhand (Feb 21, 2017 - 7:07 am)

I disagree and think knowledge of personality disorders in a litigation context is just like a really good stock in your portfolio - you never know when it'll go up - when the chance arises *boom* profit.

I'm thinking cross exam or depo.

This should be a serious area of study since I think 70% of people involved in litigation have some pathology going on.

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hankstamper (Feb 21, 2017 - 3:04 pm)

In my neck of the woods, it costs about $2500 to have a psych eval done to determine if someone has a personality disorder, and if so, which one. The court usually does not order a psych eval unless there is also a GAL appointed, and those are long/costly cases.

Until you have an actual diagnoses in hand, you and your client are just making allegations.
You may know the person is crazy, but you can't really prove it, and you don't know what kind of crazy.

It's kind a catch-22 - the court will not order a psych eval unless the person has done lots of crazy things first to justify the eval. So, the eval basically confirms the crazy based on pre-eval crazy acts.

In my practice, I don't take lots of depositions in family law cases. It costs more for the transcripts and time than my clients can usually afford, and they are often only useful if the case goes to trial. In my practice, I usually only take a few cases to trial each year.

I know crazy when I see it - but I leave it to the psychologists to tell me what kind of crazy I am dealing with.

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anothernjlawyer (Feb 21, 2017 - 3:49 pm)

The knowledge is helpful to the extent that it assists you in identifying potentially problem clients and making decisions on whether or not you are going to represent them.

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onehell (Feb 21, 2017 - 3:54 pm)

I think divorce lawyers could use to learn a bit about mental health generally, specifically the anti-stigma standards according to which all licensed clinicians are supposed to practice.

No mental health diagnosis, in and of itself, means that a person can't parent a child. Any good clinician will tell you that, and any good civil rights lawyer would tell you that arguing otherwise is essentially asking the court to discriminate on the basis of disability.

In fact, federal law goes so far as to provide special extra protections for things like psychotherapy notes and substance abuse treatment information. Even an otherwise HIPAA-compliant subpoena can't get at these records, if counsel knows enough about mental health law to push back. The public policy behind these laws and rules (e.g. 42 CFR Part 2) is that people would not seek treatment if they had to live in fear that doing so would later be used against them in a criminal case or child custody dispute.

Yet still, I see too many lawyers who somehow got hold of mental health records essentially saying "a ha! Bipolar! That means I win!"

Show the court how the person actually does (or does not) care for a child, if in fact you have evidence about that, such as police/CPS testimony (if a record of cops and child protective getting called out), custody evaluations and reports from supervised visits. Show an actual track record of concerning behavior. The diagnosis in and of itself is not the issue, and it is neither necessary nor sufficient to demonstrate the risk of abuse/neglect.

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nazlaw (Mar 7, 2017 - 4:21 pm)

Its good for cross, you will know which buttons to push and how to get an on stand meltdown. Nothing better than the other side going full crazy in all their glory, right their for the Judge to see.

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