Psychologist Under Fire After Father Murders Son

A Fairfax County, Virginia, woman whose son died while on an unsupervised visit with his father has filed a wrongful death suit against the psychologist who approved the visitation. The woman’s 15-month-old son was drowned by his father during the October 2012 visit, which was part of a court-ordered change to the family’s child custody agreement.

Authorities report that the boy’s father had taken out more than $500,000 in life insurance policies on his son before allegedly killing him. The man has been charged with murder.

The boy’s mother contends that the man would have never been granted the visitation if a different psychologist had been used. The couple had been negotiating a custody dispute at the time of the evaluation, and the man was ordered to obtain a mental evaluation. He was, however, permitted to choose his own psychologist, and he paid for the evaluation himself.

As a result, said the woman’s attorney, the psychologist provided a biased mental-health evaluation that minimized many of the father’s previous problems. The psychologist is accused of skewing her evaluation to suit the man who paid her, but she should have been protecting the best interests of the child. Previous psychological evaluations showed that the man had engaged in sexually aberrant behavior and pulled a gun on a former girlfriend, for example.

The report was an instrumental piece of information used by a judge to grant the father’s unsupervised visits. Ultimately, the boy’s mother claims the psychologist ignored all warning signs and violated professional ethics by allowing the boy an unsupervised visit with his father. Supervised visitation would likely have prevented any misconduct by the boy’s father, but this option was dismissed.

Child custody agreements are admittedly difficult to craft, even under normal circumstances. If you suspect that your spouse should not be granted unsupervised visits because of unbalanced mental health, you should contact your divorce attorney immediately.

Source: The Daily Record, “Mother sues psychologist following toddler’s death,” Feb. 19, 2013