Child Custody

Do children psychology consultations require the consent of both parents?

It is known that, as a rule, issues of particular importance in the child’s life must be decided by both parents. And this regardless of whether the child lives mostly with one parent or in a shared custody arrangement.

Particularly important issues will be those that take on greater importance in the child’s life and are likely to have a decisive influence on his healthy and harmonious growth (the geographical area of his residence, the frequency of public or private education, the carrying out of medical interventions that involve risk for life, etc).

Whenever there are differences between parents on a matter of particular importance, it will be up to the court to decide in the best interests of the child or juvenile.

Now, the question arises as to whether one of the parents will be able to submit the child to psychology sessions without obtaining the consent of the other parent or even against his or her will? Is this an issue of particular importance and, for that reason, requires the consent of both parents or the family court intervention?

Family courts are not unanimous in this matter and there is at least a superior court decision stating that this was not a matter of particular importance – and, therefore, any of the parents could subject the child to psychology sessions without the consent of the other parent. The reasoning of this court ruling is that the submission of young people to clinical psychology consultations is nowadays considered to be a trivialized practice whenever social or emotional maladaptation is suspected and, to that extent, it is not included in the core of essential issues that should be subject to decision by both parents

We believe thus that our courts will move in the future towards dispensing the consent of both parents in this matter, which means that either parent will be able to accompany the child or juvenile by a psychologist of their choice, without taking care to obtain the prior consent of the other parent.

It should be noted, however, that the Portuguese Psychologists’ Order understands that the consent of both parents is indispensable, except in cases of risk or danger for the child. So the psychologist who decides to accompany a child whitout the consent of both parents may be subject to disciplinary proceedings

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