Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Autism and Family Court

Kelly C. Wall and Karen Markle write at The Legal Intelligencer:
In high-conflict cases with ASD children, like divorces or custody disputes, it is common that the parents do not want to cooperate with each other and refuse to identify a lead parent (a decision maker) on how to raise the child. This parent is more likely to coordinate special services for the child, doctors' appointments, transportation and therapy. The court will want to know who this decision maker is, which parent has the most stable household and which parent can provide consistency. Conflict occurs when the parents cannot agree on a plan for a number of issues for their child. These include, but are not limited to: discipline, therapeutic treatments and frequency, medication and dosage, diets, education (traditional classrooms or special needs classes) and routines (how often is the child switching between homes and parents).
Regardless of the role the attorney is playing, the attorney's representation is all encompassing and he or she has a duty to present a complete record, which will require knowledge of the ASD child's needs. As a representative of the client, it is incumbent upon the lawyer to understand all of these issues so that he or she can elicit this information during testimony and prepare the client to answer these questions. In complex cases, the lawyer can seek expert advice or interview the child's service providers for a better understanding of the child's need.