Psychologists acting as expert witnesses for the family courts not qualified ~ Channel 4 News

Around 20 per cent of psychologists acting as expert witnesses for the family courts are not qualified, according to a Channel 4 News investigation broadcast tonight, writes producer Phil Carter. 

The findings are based on research published on Wednesday for the Family Justice Council (FJC). It was led by Professor Jane Ireland, a forensic psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire.

Prof Ireland and her team were given unprecedented access to psychologists' expert witness reports from three undisclosed courts across England by the FJC, an arm's length body of the Ministry of Justice.

Experts play a critical role in family court cases: research suggests that at least one expert is used in 90 per cent of public law children's proceedings and many cases involve three or more experts.

The majority of these experts are psychiatrists and psychologists, employed to provide expert opinion on a range of matters in these cases, typically including questions as to whether parents have the ability to care for their children, display personality disorders or other psychological issues and whether any such diagnoses are treatable within a timescale suitable for the children involved.

Channel 4 News spoke to families across the country involved in court proceedings and heard time and again concerns about the experts used by the courts to determine whether children are at risk and should be removed from their birth parents.


But because of the secrecy of the family courts - designed to protect the identity of the children at the heart of proceedings - the experts used have largely been beyond scrutiny.

This research is the first time these concerns have been to some degree independently substantiated. The research found serious concerns across a range of issues beyond the startling finding that around a fifth of so-called psychologist expert witnesses are not qualified.

The assessments of the expert reports found that some 20 per cent of the psychologists were working beyond their area of knowledge; around a third had no experience of mental health assessments; and some 90 per cent of experts were not in current practice.

The net result was that the research concluded that around 65 per cent of expert reports in the study were of either 'poor' or 'very poor' quality.

Professor Ireland told Channel 4 News: "I think we were very concerned and perturbed by some of the reports that we read, not just in terms of qualification but also the quality of the reports that we read ..."


Nigel Priestley, a lawyer closely involved in family proceedings, told Channel 4 News of the gravity of the research's findings. "After the death penalty the most draconian act that the state can do is remove a family's child," he said. "What is at stake for many carers is the loss of their children and on the basis of a report which might or indeed might not be questionable."

He regularly deals with cases where parents feel the expert evidence is flawed. But it is the scale of the problem revealed by the new research which has surprised him.

He said: "If the statistics are that 20 per cent are unqualified that is not just a mess, that is staggering, wrong ... this is not just about making money, this is about removing children very often or, more importantly, protecting children ..."


One of the more surprising findings of the research was that some psychologists were recorded as assessing parents without ever meeting or seeing them.

Prof Ireland told Channel 4 News: "You should never be in a position where you diagnose somebody, or make judgements on them, if you haven't seen them. It goes completely against code of conduct and ethics and it is impossible. You can’t do a paper assessment on a human being, you have to meet that person, understand their interactions, build a rapport and then take your judgement on the basis of that."

But Channel 4 News has learnt that this is not just a problem confined to psychologists. One mother who spoke on condition of anonymity recently left England after a private law family court case over custody of her children.

This case involved some eight expert witnesses. One, a psychiatrist, provided the court with an assessment of a potential change of residence for the children without meeting the mother or the children. The mother described the family court system and the repeated use of experts as barbaric.

The day after the psychiatrist completed the report on the mother he was suspended by the GMC for a separate offence. Yet, despite the concerns over assessing people without ever actually seeing them, it seems that courts are willing to accept such reports.

The research is the first of its kind and clearly has limitations, which the report itself acknowledges. The sample size was relatively small at 126 reports and the methodology to objectively quantify quality is likely to need further refinement.


But the range and scale of the problems identified suggest that this is unlikely to be explained solely by methodological shortcomings.

Intriguingly, the research also suggests that the problems may extend well beyond psychologists. Indeed, in the course of the investigation, Channel 4 News uncovered serious areas of concern with both psychiatrists and paediatricians as well as play therapists and others providing expert services to the family courts.

"I think the results from the research are enough to suggest that we do need an urgent review across the range of expert witnesses that the courts are employing," said Professor Ireland.

"After the death penalty the most draconian act that the state can do is remove a family's child." ~ Nigel Priestly, Lawyer

"I think the results from the research are enough to suggest that we do need an urgent review across the range of expert witnesses that the courts are employing." ~ Prof Jane Ireland, University of Central Lancashire

More from the UK:


Top judge says legal aid in family cases may disappear ~
Update The president of the family courts, Sir Nicholas Wall, has given a wide-ranging speech to Families Needs Fathers. In it he outlined his own vision for change and also sounded a warning that legal aid in family cases may soon be abolished.

Mr Justice Coleridge: family judges should express themselves forcefully and publicly ~
Family law judges have been unusually vocal recently in sharing their ideas for family justice reform. The latest to put his case is the High Court judge Mr Justice Coleridge, in a speech entitled Lets hear it for the Child; Restoring the Authority of the Family Court, Blue Skies and Sacred Cows given at the Association of Lawyers for Children’s 21st Annual Conference last week.
The traditional role of judges is to speak out in court and stay silent outside of it. But the relatively new head of the family courts, Sir Nicolas Wall, has set a strong example of judicial outspokenness, and it appears that the other judges are following suit in the face of large cuts to the family justice budget. That being said, Mr Justice Coleridge has been a vocal advocate for family justice reform for a number of years.

He really needs his father video:
A short scene with Will Smith from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Episode 424).
In the story Will Smith lives with his uncle and his family. In this episode his (biogical) father comes to visit after 14 years. They deside to go on a trip together for the summer but his father sneaks back before the trip to tell his brother (Will's uncle) that Will cannot go...then this comes.
It's one of the best display of acting I've ever seen and it really moved me.

Rocket Surgery? Designating Court Experts. »
Expert witnesses are routinely used in Divorce cases. Expert testimony covers a wide gamut of topics, including; Financial, such as appraisals or accounting, Counseling, regarding fault grounds o.....


Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement

Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement | Southern Poverty Law Center


Putting Children First and Minimizing Conflict

The Honorable Lawson E Thomas (1898-1989)
Lawson E. Thomas was an outstanding civil rights activist who worked tirelessly to make a pronounced change in Miami’s social and political environment, and who did so utilizing the law as his tool. His first major victory on behalf of a group of clients was gained in the late 1940s when he represented black parents in Broward County who successfully sued the School Board over unequal treatment of their children. At the time, the school year for black children was three months shorter than for white children, so that black children would be available to work in the bean fields.


What Factors Contribute to Child Abuse and Neglect?

There is no single known cause of child maltreatment. Nor is there any single description that captures all families in which children are victims of abuse and neglect. Child maltreatment occurs across socio-economic, religious, cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. While no specific causes definitively have been identified that lead a parent or other caregiver to abuse or neglect a child, research has recognized a number of risk factors or attributes commonly associated with maltreatment. Children within families and environments in which these factors exist have a higher probability of experiencing maltreatment. It must be emphasized, however, that while certain factors often are present among families where maltreatment occurs, this does not mean that the presence of these factors will always result in child abuse and neglect. The factors that may contribute to maltreatment in one family may not result in child abuse and neglect in another family. For example, several researchers note the relation between poverty and maltreatment, yet it must be noted that most people living in poverty do not harm their children. Professionals who intervene in cases of child maltreatment must recognize the multiple, complex causes of the problem and must tailor their assessment and treatment of children and families to meet the specific needs and circumstances of the family.

Risk factors associated with child maltreatment can be grouped in four domains:
  • Parent or caregiver factors
  • Family factors - see below
  • Child factors
  • Environmental factors

Family Factors

Specific life situations of some families—such as marital conflict, domestic violence, single parenthood, unemployment, financial stress, and social isolation—may increase the likelihood of maltreatment. While these factors by themselves may not cause maltreatment, they frequently contribute to negative patterns of family functioning.

Family Structure

Children living with single parents may be at higher risk of experiencing physical and sexual abuse and neglect than children living with two biological parents.45 Single parent households are substantially more likely to have incomes below the poverty line. Lower income, the increased stress associated with the sole burden of family responsibilities, and fewer supports are thought to contribute to the risk of single parents maltreating their children. In 1998, 23 percent of children lived in households with a single mother, and 4 percent lived in households with a single father.46 A strong, positive relationship between the child and the father, whether he resides in the home or not, contributes to the child's development and may lessen the risk of abuse.

In addition, studies have found that compared to similar non-neglecting families, neglectful families tend to have more children or greater numbers of people living in the household.47 Chronically neglecting families often are characterized by a chaotic household with changing constellations of adult and child figures (e.g., a mother and her children who live on and off with various others, such as the mother's mother, the mother's sister, or a boyfriend).48

The Child Abuse and Father Absence Connection
  • The rate of child abuse in single parent households is 27.3 children per 1,000, which is nearly twice the rate of child abuse in two parent households (15.5 children per 1,000).
  • An analysis of child abuse cases in a nationally representative sample of 42 counties found that children from single parent families are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse than children who live with both biological parents. Compared to their peers living with both parents, children in single parent homes had:
    • 77 percent greater risk of being physically abused
    • 87 percent greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect
    • 165 percent greater risk of experiencing notable physical neglect
    • 74 percent greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect
    • 80 percent greater risk of suffering serious injury as a result of abuse
    • 120 percent greater risk of experiencing some type of maltreatment overall.
  • A national survey of nearly 1,000 parents found that 7.4 percent of children who lived with one parent had been sexually abused, compared to only 4.2 percent of children who lived with both biological parents.
  • Using data from 1,000 students tracked from seventh or eighth grade in 1988 through high school in 1992, researchers determined that only 3.2 percent of the boys and girls who were raised with both biological parents had a history of maltreatment. However, a full 18.6 percent of those in other family situations had been maltreated.
  • A study of 156 victims of child sexual abuse found that the majority of the children came from disrupted or single-parent homes; only 31 percent of the children lived with both biological parents. Although stepfamilies make up only about 10 percent of all families, 27 percent of the abused children in this study lived with either a stepfather or the mother's boyfriend.49

Marital Conflict and Domestic Violence

According to published studies, in 30 to 60 percent of families where spouse abuse takes place, child maltreatment also occurs.50 Children in violent homes may witness parental violence, may be victims of physical abuse themselves, and may be neglected by parents who are focused on their partners or unresponsive to their children due to their own fears.51 A child who witnesses parental violence is at risk for also being maltreated, but, even if the child is not maltreated, he or she may experience harmful emotional consequences from witnessing the parental violence.52


Stress is also thought to play a significant role in family functioning, although its exact relationship with maltreatment is not fully understood.53 Physical abuse has been associated with stressful life events, parenting stress, and emotional distress in various studies.54 Similarly, some studies have found that neglectful families report more day-to-day stress than non-neglectful families.55 It is not clear, however, whether maltreating parents actually experience more life stress or, rather, perceive more events and life experiences as being stressful.56 In addition, specific stressful situations (e.g., losing a job, physical illness, marital problems, or the death of a family member) may exacerbate certain characteristics of the family members affected, such as hostility, anxiety, or depression, and that may also aggravate the level of family conflict and maltreatment.57

Parent-Child Interaction

Families involved in child maltreatment seldom recognize or reward their child's positive behaviors, while having strong responses to their child's negative behaviors.58 Maltreating parents have been found to be less supportive, affectionate, playful, and responsive with their children than parents who do not abuse their children.59 Research on maltreating parents, particularly physically abusive mothers, found that these parents were more likely to use harsh discipline strategies (e.g., hitting, prolonged isolation) and verbal aggression and less likely to use positive parenting strategies (e.g., using time outs, reasoning, and recognizing and encouraging the child's successes).60

Read more at:
Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families by connecting child welfare, adoption, and related professionals as well as the general public to information, resources, and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption, and more.

A service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we provide access to print and electronic publications, websites, databases, and online learning tools for improving child welfare practice, including resources that can be shared with families.

Child Welfare Information Gateway consolidates and builds upon the services formerly provided by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (NCCANCH) and the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC).
The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (NCCANCH) was established in 1974 by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to collect, organize, and disseminate information on all aspects of child maltreatment. View legislationexternal link

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC) was established by Congress in 1987 to provide free information on all aspects of adoption. The NAIC website is now the adoption section of the Child Welfare Information Gateway website, and provides comprehensive information on domestic and intercountry adoption. View legislationexternal link

Prior to the creation of Child Welfare Information Gateway, each Clearinghouse represented different aspects of the child welfare system, with some overlap. By consolidating and expanding upon the two Clearinghouses to create one Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children's Bureau provides professionals working in child abuse prevention, family support, foster care, and many related fields with information and resources that span the full spectrum of child welfare topics to help protect children and strengthen families.

CPS Insider Blows Whistle- Corruption and Greed!


The Heart, Mind, and Spirit of Children.


...listen to their dialogue...
(click here to see the film)

Differently than in other videos on this site, this one does not deal with the consequences of the father absence, but tries to investigate its grounds.

A Father and his Child are often apart (separated) and even when not "physically apart", due to a divorce or to other reasons, they are separated in their look, affection, in their relationship. Their mind distance is preamble to a "final" physical separation. Many fathers don't make or complete the education of their children because they had not been educated and grown up emotionally, ethically, rationally by their own fathers too.

The father absence is a "wide phenomenon" and it has historical roots in the last century, a century comprising terrible wars and degradating working conditions, places very far from home and family, places where millions of men and fathers died (25 million military only during the II world war) or they got often shocked, wounded, made unable to continue their life and to play their social role with dignity

A long "non-chain", consisting of missing links. Such chain has to be rebuilt today by the alive and healthy people, because in such "connection" (roots, past, ancestors) there are important seeds for future life and happiness

What to do? - To "look at" the own father with new and adult eyes. If he died, it's however possible to unterstand him by imagination, memories and through the people left by him in the world. Many things will be discovered, such as (very often) that our father loved us, but he didn't know how to show it, and he closed himself off (his soul), loosing the occasion and the joy of growing up his children. 

Happy end is not guaranteed, but Life of a child "honestly meeting" the father changes: rage and grudges cool off, an healthy "internal father" is built; the internal father will be a guide for the future, in order to become better fathers, like our father would have wanted, although he didn't tell us.

DOWNLOAD the film on your pc (wmv format, 11MB - right button) . . . . watch it on YOUTUBE

Reblogged from Parents Rights Blog: See on - Public Law Children Act Cases Family Law News, Family Court System, Social Services,...  CHILDREN'S RIGHTS - FLORIDA

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Reblogged from Parents Rights Blog: See on - Public Law Children Act Cases “All it needs for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing”.

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Reblogged from Family Court in America: From Downtown Oklahoma City Examiner : December 20, 2013 by Diana Winslow Concerned parents were elated this week when a much awaited segue for them to speak came forward as an...

Several of our videos because of our promotion of activism and open disdain for our judiciary are blocked from play on mainstream sites. This video can only be seen on my hard drive and on dailymotion. Lets see how long it lasts on Facebook...
Posted by Fathers-4-Justice USA on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

25 MILLION American Children are being Abused! Parental Alienation it's harms the heart, mind and spirit of our childrenIt's time for a change!Equal Parenting Rights, It's the true Best Interest of our Children
Posted by Fathers-4-Justice USA on Sunday, October 4, 2015

(anti) Family court is a deadly business.
Posted by Fathers-4-Justice USA on Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Equal Parenting Bike Trek CRISPE and Fathers4Justice Swarm a P...
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Posted by Fathers-4-Justice USA on Monday, August 31, 2015

F4J First Annual Fatherless Day
Posted by Fathers-4-Justice USA on Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fatherless Day 2012
Fatherless Day 2012 MO
Posted by Fathers-4-Justice USA on Saturday, June 16, 2012

Posted by Fathers-4-Justice USA on Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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