Unqualified Rogue “Experts” in Family Law Courts Advise Judges to Remove Children from Loving Mothers

The Alliance of Birth Mothers Campaigning for Justice has linked up scores of mothers who have shared their experience of the so called experts appointed by the courts to write up various reports and make recommendations to the judges, we have discovered that some of these individuals who can be paid up to €10,000 to write a report are using copy and paste from one individual report to the next.

This is unlikely to come to light in the short term.

Mothers might be given a few minutes to glance through the report, are not allowed to take written notes, are not given a copy of the report and are given a warning by the judge that they face a hefty fine or imprisonment if they divulge the contents of the report to anyone because these reports are subject to the in camera rule.

At this stage the Alliance is able to predict with considerable accuracy the outcomes for mothers who have been unfortunate enough to fall under certain experts.

In the case of one particular expert it’s almost a 100% certainty that he will accuse a mother reporting sexual abuse of being guilty of parental alienation and custody will be granted to the perpetrator with the mother having to pay up to €200 to a private company to supervise her access.

This has placed mothers in a situation where they cannot see their child if they have not got enough money to pay for the access. THIS IS HAPPENING IN IRELAND IN 2023.

The top brass in the government including successive ministers for Justice have known about this for years, and they have done nothing about it.

In the case of a handful of other so-called experts it’s a 100% certainty that the recommendation will be made for Tusla to be granted a care order.

Kitty Holland reports in today’s Irish Times:

“Expert reports for family law courts on the “best interests” of children are inconsistent, unregulated and “can become an additional site of conflict” in “already highly adversarial” disputes, a briefing note for acting Minister for Justice Simon Harris, has warned. The note, written by department officials , says the “future use and application” of these reports, frequently written by unregulated experts, must be reviewed to ensure children’s needs are at the “centre” of the family law system.”

Holland continues,

“Where a judge in a family law dispute requires an opinion on the best interests of a child or children they may order an expert report under either Section 47 of the Family Law Act 1995, or Section 32 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964. More recently, they have been extended to Section 27 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018. These are conducted by court-appointed experts who could be clinical psychologists, forensic psychologists, social care workers, psychotherapists, or, family therapists.”

“Many of these professions are not subject to regulatory oversight by Coru, the statutory regulatory body for health and social care professionals, and their reports cannot be appealed. They may make recommendations on which parent has custody of children, whether a parent should have access to their children and what form that access should take.”

“The recommendations are generally accepted by the courts which in turn make orders affecting children’s lives. Concerns have repeatedly been raised about the absence of regulation and oversight over these experts; the lack of transparency about their qualifications, and, the costs of the reports – which can run to several thousand euros and which must be borne by parents. Women’s advocacy organisations – particularly those working with domestic violence survivors – have for decades warned about an apparent lack of expertise among some experts on the dynamics of abuse and coercive control, the impact on children, and how abusers may continue their abuse through the legal process. A 2003 report from Women’s Aid, ‘Child custody and access in the context of domestic violence’ said on these reports: “It is essential that such reports are carried out by professionals trained in the dynamics of abuse”.

“It noted its service users, “spoke of their children’s wishes not being adequately reflected” by experts. The Family Justice Strategy, 2022-2025, published by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee before the start of her maternity leave last year, commits to a review of reports as part of an overhaul of the family justice system.”

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