Continuing our series on family law issues involving special-needs kids, today we’ll focus on the evidence you need to present your child’s issues to the Court.
(By special guest author, Quirkykids Mom)
When you enter the world of the family court system, you are entering a place rife with the emotionality of broken couples who are struggling with all kinds of differing beliefs and agendas. When it comes to their children, this can be dangerous if the children have special needs that are recognized by one parent but not by the other. In this case the needs need to be provable to the court. The Court’s goal is to quickly distinguish claim from fact, hurt and vindictive feelings of the parents from the actual needs of these children.
What carries weight in the court system? Evidence. Evidence is the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. The court will be interested in what an emotionally neutral, qualified professional has diagnosed and prescribed for treatment. Along with the law, a judge will rely on qualified specialists to validate each parent’s proposal, and by qualified I mean somebody with a very long and impressive Curriculum Vitae.
So step 1 is make sure your child is currently being treated by an expert in the field of your child’s condition. It’s best if they are backed up with a long C.V. If your child is not currently under an expert’s care, arrange for them to be seen immediately. The person treating your child will verify to legal professionals that your child’s diagnosis is current and their needs are immediate.
Then gather your records. Who diagnosed your child and when? Do you have records of the diagnosis; if not, can you obtain them? Make a list of all of the therapists involved with helping your child. Note their titles and their role in your child’s life. Have their contact information. Gather school records. Gather records from any government agencies that you receive assistance from, such as your local Regional Center.
Do you have an up to date treatment plan in place? And most importantly, what are the consequences for your child if their needs are not met in a timely manner? Getting a current evaluation from an expert can be costly, but in the long run, it is a very important investment.
In the case of autism, an incredibly powerful person to have on your team is Dr. David Holmes of Dr. David Holmes of Lifespan Services, LLC. He has written an article about guidelines for the Court to consider when deciding custody.
Remember: a judge left with the responsibility of choosing a living situation for a special needs child will want to make the best choice. Your verifiable records will help.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes and it should not be relied on as legal advice. An attorney-client relationship is not formed by reading the information on this site and can only be formed by a written agreement that sets forth the scope of the relationship and the fee arrangement. Whether you’re in San Diego, Imperial or Riverside County; Hemet to El Centro to Vista, there is no substitute for expert legal assistance. If you need representation, schedule a consultation with the Barefoot team.