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NSW What Does a Mental Health Assessment Involve?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Vee, 28 September 2016.

  1. Vee

    Vee Well-Known Member

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    During a child inclusive conference, the consultant said they were recommending the father undergo a mental health assessment. What does this involve?
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    It's simply an assessment by a psychologist or other mental health professional to determine whether there are any unaddressed mental health issues which may require treatment. It usually takes the form of an interview and other testing, which results in a recommendation for treatment or otherwise advice that no mental health issues were identified.

    A recommendation from a consultant has weight in Court, but doesn't become mandatory unless the Court actually makes the recommendation into an order (which it quite often does).
     
  3. Vee

    Vee Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that.

    He's started seeing a psychologist in the last week - will that count when we go back to court next month?

    We both just want this over but were told the judge likely won't approve the orders we've decided on based on the mental health evaluation recommendation.
     
  4. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    At a guess, I would bet that advice came from the only party that actually benefits from your family law matter staying in the Court system for as long as possible - your lawyer. With the fees they charge as a matter of course, it should hardly surprise you that they don't want you to reach agreement just yet, because doing so puts an early stopper in the funding supply.

    My view? I think they're wrong.

    As a rule of thumb, the Court doesn't want to deal with parenting matters and it will go to great lengths to compel the parents to settle by consent, rather than at trial. One of the measures the Court ordinarily hopes will compel the parents to settle is the order of a family report because it provides the parents with some perspective, so unless something very serious comes to light in that consultation, I am skeptical that a Court will obstruct parents from reaching agreement based just on a recommendation from a family consultant.

    With that said, I suppose it would depend on what compelled the consultant to make such a recommendation. Were concerns raised about the current welfare of the kids? Was there commentary to suggest the kids are at risk in the father's care?
     
  5. Vee

    Vee Well-Known Member

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    The consultant said that our kids are bright, happy, talkative and not affected by what's happened - yet. They also said they were making no reports to DOCS or mental health teams, but the court will be suspicious as to why notices of risk were filed by both of us when after being in the system since November we just want this over with for our kids' sakes, especially being told by the consultant that this will still be going on in 18 months if we continue.

    We figured we'd settle and sort the other stuff out ourselves. (We'll do post separation counselling and
    regular counselling together to get through the damage and learn to get along for our kids' sakes).

    The consultant thinks that the dads past parenting was bad, but doesn't believe the kids are at risk with either of us. The consultant said there's no need to recommend parenting courses or anything like that.
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Most parents in family law matters file notices of risk, but that's why the Court appoints expert witnesses - to work out if those risks actually exist or not.

    It sounds like the expert witness in your case has determined there's no real risk to the kids, or at least not any that can't be addressed with a bit of counselling. If you've already agreed to undertake counselling, and he's already started seeing a psychologist, then I can't see a Court agreeing the notified risks haven't been adequately addressed by the consent orders.

    I do want to commend you and your ex for being reasonable about this situation. Too often, parents come to this forum looking for a guide on 'how to win', rather than 'how to co-parent for the benefit of the kids', and when you enter this field with that attitude, the losers are always the children. It's refreshing to see parents willing to get past their differences, make concessions for each others' flaws and find some way to get along so their kids can flourish.

    I hope everything runs smoothly for you. Realistically, the suggestion that you'd be in Court for another 18 months is optimistic. For most, it's closer to three years.
     

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