Mental health professionals
can be invited to contribute specialized
knowledge to family litigation in the role of
is an impartial professional with no prior
involvement with the parties to the particular
matter. By contrast, a professional who is or
has been involved with one or more family
members (e.g., as child therapist,
co-parenting counselor) may have tremendous
expertise, but would participate in litigation
as a fact witness.
A qualified mental health professional can
serve as one of two types of experts.
(1) A testifying or testamentary expert will
be called to the stand to educate the court in
matters relevant to the particular litigation.
This can be a purely abstract lesson in
psychology (e.g., what is healthy child
development? What is enmeshment? What is
alienation?). It can include answers to
hypotheticals (e.g., "If a 6-year-old wets the
bed, what could that mean?"). It could offer
an opinion based on a review of specific
Dr. Garber will not interview, assess, or
observe any individual when serving as a
testifying expert. Although this may feel
awkward to litigants, it is necessary to
(2) A non-testifying
expert will not be called to testify.
Instead, this mental health professional works
with counsel and one litigant to prepare for
examination and cross-examination. A
non-testifying expert can meet with parties,
review documentation, and critique other
professionals' work. Read more here
Dr. Garber brings almost four
decades of experience as a psychologist
providing therapies and evaluations to
children and families across the full spectrum
much does this service cost?
Dr. Garber's work
as either a testifying or non-testifying
expert is charged by the hour inclusive of all
activities, e.g., reviewing documents,
conferring with counsel, travel.
Dr. Garber will specify the per hour charge
and the necessary initial retainer in an
initial Statement of Understanding delivered
upon request. Total hours (and thereby costs)
will vary based on the nature of the work such
that working as a testifying expert educating
the court without document review is likely to
be less expensive than working as a
non-testifying expert working with counsel to
prepare for trial.
an expert, who does Dr. Garber work for?
Dr. Garber is
employed by a lawyer in this role. The lawyer
represents a litigating party (parent).
Nevertheless, Dr. Garber retains the
discretion to work in the best interests of
In the interest of retaining impartiality and
privilege, as a testifying expert Dr. Garber
strongly prefers that payment is delivered
from retaining counsel's office rather than
from that lawyer's client.
want to learn more.
Read more here:
Lee, S. M.,
& Nachlis, L. S. (2011). Consulting
with attorneys: An alternative hybrid
model. Journal of Child Custody:
Research, Issues, and Practices, 8(1-2),
Austin, W. G.,
Kirkpatrick, H. D. and Flens, J. R.
(2011), The emerging forensic role for
work product review and case analysis in
child access and parenting plan
disputes. Family Court Review, 49:
Family and Conciliation Courts and Child
Custody Consultant Task Force (2011),
Mental health consultants and child
custody evaluations: A Discussion paper.
Family Court Review, 49: 723–736.
Bow, J. N.,
Gottlieb, M. C., Gould-Saltman, Hon. D.
J. and Hendershot, L. (2011). Partners
in the process: How attorneys prepare
their clients for custody evaluations
and litigation.Family Court Review, 49:
Rosen, J. A. and Reinach Wolf, C.
(2016), Best Interests of the Special
Needs Child: Mandating Consideration of
the Child's Mental Health. Family Court
Review, 54: 68–80.