Cooper & Cooper 2012. FMCAfam 789
A separating couple agreed to refer their child to a child and family psychologist for 10 sessions, with both parents initially attending sessions. The father then ceased bringing the child to sessions citing other priorities. The psychologist’s file was subpoenaed but the father contested the admissibility of the psychologist’s evidence (evidence admissibility).
The judge found that the psychologist was able to provide expert opinion as well as observational information, as the psychologist had specialised knowledge on the topic.
The judge noted that the psychologist’s advice needed to be restricted to topics within the brief, and topics under dispute.
The judge noted restrictions on the ability of the psychologist to draw on information provided by third parties as this amounts to hearsay evidence. Using hearsay evidence may reduce the weight to be given to the probative value of the psychologist’s evidence.
The judge noted that the psychologist’s opinions may be partisan as the psychologist functioned as a therapist for one party. The psychologist needed to provide full and objective evidence to the court rather than be an agent for the person paying their fee.
The judge reviewed whether the primary client consented to the information being provided, and whether harm might result from any disclosure.
The judge ruled that the psychologist did not provide a family counselling service as defined in legislation.
The judge ruled that evidence of the treating psychologist was admissible evidence.