Working with Attorneys
Family Law attorneys may be unaccustomed to working on a consultative basis with a mental health professional. More often than not, attorneys tend to see such professionals as being experts, evaluators, and therapists whom they will depose, examine in court, and/or cross-examine. The concept of having a consultant in a “team” framework is often not familiar ground.
First, the worlds of the attorney and that of the mental health professional could perhaps not be more different. The attorney deals with “facts” and “fact patterns” as though they were material objects; whereas the mental health professional traffics in subtly mixed realities, fraught with ambivalence and innuendo. As the attorney attempts to bring the mental health professional into the courtroom, and therefore into this legal world, the translation process can be difficult, imprecise, and approximate at best. Lawyers often complain that they cannot get a psychological witness to come up with a simple answer; whereas the mental health professional complains about being “tricked” by the lawyer into saying things that they do not really mean. I would suggest that this dynamic is very often the result of these two “world views” attempting to mix together, but finding them to be more like oil and water, than of similar makeup.
In the most general sense, the experienced consultant, through years of traffic in both of these worlds, can act as translator. In so doing, the consultant can advise the attorney regarding how to draw what they need from the most obtuse psychological witness, or alternatively, help the mental health witness to avoid the entrapment that are part of the alien ground of the litigation process. In more specific terms, the consultant can help with cross-examination questions of a technical nature, in questioning an adverse mental health witness. For example, familiarity with the otherwise hidden flaws of psychological instruments can help to reveal credibility problems of adverse mental health professionals who may be erroneously vilifying the client on technical grounds. Many competent attorneys are not aware of the striking absence of reliable scientific rigor for the instruments used in custody evaluations. As the psychological community privately struggles with this serious problem internally, as it has for years, these issues seldom make it into public awareness, much less into public scrutiny. There are myriad issues related to reliability and scientific rigor, with which even the most informed attorney could never be expected to keep current.
As further example, the consultant can serve as a repository of the Standards of Practice and other guidelines by which their profession is called upon to operate. The administrative rules for the operation of the statues governing professional behavior are usually not well known by even the most practiced and experienced attorney. Therefore, when these rules are broken, which they very commonly are, an attorney’s unfamiliarity with the rules precludes exposing them.
By acting in the consultative capacity, the consultant is not hamstrung by the limitations of their role being narrowly defined as an evaluator or a therapist. In order to remain unbiased, the evaluator or the therapist is restricted from the exchange of casual information that may otherwise be helpful to the attorney. Since the consultant is typically thought of in terms of being “Work Product,” no such restriction applies. Consequently, a very broad and spontaneous “think tank” environment can exist, which can keep the case fresh and give the client a sense of confidence with the representation.
In the event that a professional expert is required for testimony or for appointment by the court, the experienced consultant, having operated within the world of high conflict divorce for many years, can be absolutely instrumental in finding the best expert for the job. This might require a nationwide search, or it might involve a pre-screening of local professionals to determine their suitability for the job. The value that this single task can bring to the case can be very significant.
Other functions that may be performed by the consultant are as limitless as one’s creative imagination. The bottom line is, however, that the consultant can and should serve as a valuable resource for the attorney as well as for the client. The effective consultant should make the work of the litigation operate more seamlessly and with less effort. In short, the attorney no longer has to carry the entire weight of the case.
The Consultative Process
1. Initial Meeting with Client.
The first step is usually a phone conversation between Dr. Bone and a parent and/or attorney. This discussion is completely confidential and includes anything the client may want to discuss. Dr. Bone will be able to provide specific suggestions for your situation and be able to explain how/when/where his involvement can improve your court hearing / evaluation / testimony / case outcome. This first step can go a long way in helping to create a better overall outcome for your case.
2. Review Case Material
The list of materials may include evaluations, court orders, letters, emails and literally anything that is pertinent to the case. The extensive amount of materials that accumulate in cases involving Parental Alienation can be very daunting but Dr. Bone is quite familiar with this aspect of these types of cases.
3. Identify Key Points of Your Case
Here’s where a thorough understanding of how Parental Alienation cases differ than others seen in Family Court is vital. It is very easy for the court, mental-health professionals, lawyers and clients to become overwhelmed, overly-focused or simply become diverted by details that are immaterial in reaching resolutions. Think of Dr. Bone as a fresh pair of eyes in the investigation of your case... eyes that are experienced in seeing through the facade that alienators are quite adept at creating. He is very experienced at weeding through a mountain of papers and identifying key points that will truly get the court’s attention. The goal is to accumulate a compact version of the case and again, find those specific items that will be most critcal to helping the court to see the authentic history of your case. This part of the preparation of your case can save time and money. Any other professionals brought into the case or those you have already hired will have access to not just a condensed version of events, but a list of items to remain focused on. Too often the court and everyone involved seems to get side-tracked by unimportant details that waste precious time and resources. Dr. Bone understands that while these “unimportant details” may be very emotionally important to a mother or father experiencing them... they are often however, irrelevant to the court and to helping your case get resolution.
4. Develop PAS Strategies
This step is where your case will change direction, regain focus and find positive footing amidst the drama of Parental Alienation. The goal is to eliminate distractions that alienating parents create and help the court see the authentic version of your case. Dr. Bone works directly with a client to develop strategies that work to break-through the false-front presented by an alienating parent. He will assemble a team of professionals to work on your case under his direction and recommendations OR he will work alongside the professionals you have already hired. Dr. Bone feels that a “team” approach to presenting these cases is extremely important. Strategies will only work if everyone involved in presenting your case is fully prepared to implement them.
Your first consultation is discounted to $150. Further consultative services are charged by the hour or per retainer based agreements.
After payment is received Dr. Bone will contact you to schedule your appointment.
In-office, phone, email or Skype, Winter Park, FL
Your privacy is very important to me. Your information and messages are considered private and confidential and will not be shared with anyone.
Preparing for a
Expose the distortion of history, expose the lies and convey the actual truth of you situation by implementing your most important tool, story telling.
PAS Meets the
PAS was tested and did pass this important legal test in November of 2000, in Tampa, Florida. J. Michael Bone, Ph.D. was directly involved in this Frye Hearing as was Richard Gardner, M.D. along with Richard Warshack, Ph.D. The court ruled that PAS was accepted in the professional scientific community and did meet the Frye standard.
PA in the Family Court
The process of presenting evidence.
Proactive Strategies and finding the Appropriate Professionals