I’ve recently been working on a child custody case in which testimony from the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) was central to our case. While involving an LPC isn’t essential in all custody cases, it’s crucial to have one involved if there are any allegations of abuse, neglect, or other factors critical to a child’s welfare.
The most powerful and persuasive evidence in these cases, of course, is hard, physical evidence. But physical evidence is not always available, and the circumstances surrounding each case may be such that physical evidence will never be present. When it’s not, we rely on the ability of an LPC who is specifically trained to work with children, who can help determine the nature and the extent of any abuse that they’re experiencing, and who can testify in court in a way that will hopefully convince a judge to listen.
It’s important for the lawyer to present as complete a picture as possible for the judge. Because Judges will ultimately decide what is in the children’s best interest, the lawyer’s job is to make sure that the children’s outcries are heard and substantiated. Child Protective Services may or may not share the lawyer’s or parent’s concern in a specific case, whatever the reason may be. If the police have initiated a criminal investigation, then the police department may have procedures in place that preclude the use of that investigation in the ongoing civil custody or protective order case.
To present the most complete and persuasive case, it is vital that the lawyer, the parent, and LPC coordinate their efforts so that the outcries made to the LPC can be properly fortified against collateral attacks and substantiated. It’s critical to make sure all parties are on the same page. For the parent, it requires full, honest disclosure of the situation, so the lawyer can best minimize any possible surprises. More importantly, the parent must resist the urge to investigate and question the children to avoid any appearance of influence or coaching the children. For the LPC, it requires meticulous documentation of the outcries and the circumstances in which the outcries were made. This includes consistent communication with the parent who has brought the children for counseling, building a foundation of trust so that the LPC can determine if that parent is coaching the children.
At the Law Office of Lisa Vance, we take great care in managing the relationship between parent, LPC, and lawyer that is critical to the custody process. We are proud to say that we have helped several parents win custody and protect their children by working with experienced LPCs who have earned the respect of Judges through multiple cases. If you have concerns for the safety of your children, please contact our office as soon as possible.