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Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Over 15 years exp. Married 30 years and happy.
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Hello, I am a mother of a 23 month old little boy who

Resolved Question:


I am a mother of a 23 month old little boy who is fighting to preserve my son's well being during a very tough child custody battle with his father... My son's dad has suffered from severe anxiety disorder for 30yrs and has been treated for it, but currently is not following any treatments and has been denying he has any anxiety problems in court and for our case.

Our son was conceived after we divorced in 2009, in what was supposed to be the basis of our reconciliation. As soon as I told my ex-husband I was pregnant, he abandoned me and said he never wanted to be a father again, that he had no business being a father in his words "a man without any ambition, or money, dealing with daily anxieties, etc," and left me.

A month short of me giving birth to our son my ex came back asking for yet another chance, and I accepted. But he continued to be an inconsistent presence in my and our son's life, not coming to visit at all during our son's first month of life, and then for a couple of days every other week, or 2 or 3 weeks at a time throughout our son's 1st year of life.

Finally, I presented my ex-husband with a structured schedule to provide the consistency
and stability that was lacking in our son's life from his dad, but without allowing for
overnights yet because our son is too young, and as I just mentioned my ex-husband suffers from anxiety disorders that cause phobias and panic attacks and because of it he has even refused to take our son to the doctor the few times I couldn't at that specific moment because of anxiety, and therefore me having to go to the doctor with our son later which did not help our little boy's ear infections, etc.

My ex is asking for joint legal and physical custody threatening me to take sole
custody, because he did not want to follow any kind of schedule and wanted to take our son with him to Baltimore, even though he is unable to meet our son's most basic needs, lives 1 hr away, I live in Rockville, does not believe in our son's medical treatments such as wearing glasses for his hypermetropia, hearing aids for his moderate hearing loss, antibiotics for his ear infections, just having very radical health care beliefs but more importantly being psychologically unstable.

What is even scarier is that he has been denying in court and to his lawyer and mine that he suffers from any anxiety and has no mental health problems at all, basically that I have been lying about his anxieties for over 13yrs. He never allowed me to go with him to his therapy sessions, or never wanted to share with me the names of his doctors, accusing me of not trusting him, when all I wanted was to help during his healing process, be supportive of him and more knowledgeable about his condition.

I was lucky enough to remember the name of his primary care physician towards the middle of this custody process, and the medical records finally came through stating that my ex DOES suffer from anxiety disorder and has been prescribed medication in the past, proving he's been lying. This doctor hasn't seen my ex in 5yrs after my ex aggressively threaten another doctor working under his practice and therefore was told not to come back.

So the court evaluator asked my ex to do a psychiatric evaluation, and he did ONE day ONLY. The psychiatrist who evaluated my ex only saw him for ONE session, and concluded my ex has no health problems of any kind, does not need any treatment or medication, and is perfectly fine...

I've researched anxiety disorders and I've come across consistent information stating these conditions are not curable, but manageable with treatment and therapy, medication if needed, and that en evaluation is conducted over a long period of time and many sessions... Yet my ex will use this psychiatrist's report to continue to say he is fine, and is asking to have our little boy, so young, overnights during the week and every other weekend from Friday to Monday, when he can't even provide the most basic care for our son.

I have been the sole care taker and permanent stable parent in our son's life, and our son plays very well with his dad when he sees him, but beyond that his dad has never lived with us or has ever been an every day dad who can't even take any responsibility for our son's health and other major decisions.

How can any ethical professional psychiatrist conclude that an individual with a history of lifelong anxiety is suddenly cured and fine with ONE evaluation? Is this possible? Even though my ex is denying it he is "secretly" suffering from it, I've smelled alcohol on his breath on a few visits with our son, putting our son to risk irresponsibly and dangerously. After the few overnights our son had with his dad over the past couple of months per the temporary visitation terms until trial my son came back with very bad diaper rashes, restless, agitated, hungry, having a hard time easing back into his routines, not wanting to be without me.

What can I do before trial?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
I can see you are desperate for your son's welfare. Before I attempt to answer your question I would request a little more information from you.

You are most likely paying a lot of money to your attorney to answer your questions and to advocate for you and your son. What has your attorney said in response to your concerns listed above.

The part of your question above that appears to be in the category of 'Mental Health' seems to be limited to.

"How can any ethical professional psychiatrist conclude that an individual with a history of lifelong anxiety is suddenly cured and fine with ONE evaluation? Is this possible?"

Are you wanting an attorney at JustAnswer to address your question or a Mental Health expert? or both.

I know you are very fearful for your son's wellbeing, I am sorry you and your son are going through this.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Manley

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am looking for both a Mental Expert to tell me how psychiatric evaluations are supposed to be conducted to be valid, ethical, and appropriate before reaching any diagnosis and conclusion, and to tell me wether it makes sense that a lifelong sufferer of anxiety is all of the sudden saying he's ok just for purposes of the case...

And I am also looking for legal expert to tell me what should I be bringing to trial, in terms asking for that psychiatric evaluation report for example, or what kind of information, questions, other, I should be covering in trial because although my ex's lies finally came afloat with the primary physician's medical report, my ex is still somehow denying he has any problems and accusing me of wanting to keep him away from our son, when all I want is that our son is in both of our lives but in a way that is safe and preserves his well being, happiness, stability, and future, which can potentially be compromised by exposing him to these prolonged weekends and weekdays his dad is asking when our son has never lived in any other home than mine, I'm the only one who's taken care of him, and our boy being so young and unable to voice his needs or if he needs help, being at risk if God forbid something happens with my ex while our toddler is with him, such as an anxiety attack, or drinking and driving, etc...

I do have a lawyer in I'm in much more debt than I can handle, but I have to do everything I can for my boy's welfare, and that's what I'm trying to do, I'm not sure still how my lawyer will handle this. I have given her so much material and information she can use, but somehow is still encouraging me to settle??
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the clarification.

Sounds like your ex just lied to the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist did not probe deeply, request or look at medical records, etc. It certainly does appear your ex is denying his symptoms to everyone in order to bolster his case. Of course it doesn't make sense that a person suffering with Anxiety disorder would have an instant recovery.

Your ex got the wrong evaluation for your purposes. You said he got a psychiatric evaluation what you want him to get is a psychological evaluation. I will explain the difference.

A psychiatric evaluation can be as simple as the medical doctor (psychiatrist) taking a little history from the patient and asking a patient if they have any symptoms or complaints. If the patient reports no symptoms or complaints that could be the extent of the evaluation.

A psychological evaluation would be much more comprehensive and is what you are looking for in this case. This would be conducted by a psychologist. The evaluation would include psychological testing (like the MMPI-2 which measures many types of psychopathology including anxiety), history taking, hopefully requesting and checking medical records (this would be limited to what your ex would disclose or what you know of and request be reviewed). A psychological eval is much more in depth and requires several hours to complete. Because of the in-depth nature of this assessment you ex would likely demonstrate symptoms of anxiety while being assessed.

How to get the court to order the psychological evaluation would be the domain of the attorney(s). You are fighting an uphill battle because the courts and attorneys are constantly witnessing parents dragging each other through the mud, using their children as pawns in their ongoing struggle for power and revenge. You need to impress upon your attorney and the court if possible, the fact that you are legitimately concerned for the safety of your child and given the facts of the case they should be to.

To get a legal opinion on the legal aspects of this case from a JustAnswer attorney, I suggest you copy and paste our correspondence into a new question under the 'legal' category.

I wish you the best of success in caring for your child.

Please let me know if I can be of any more assistance.

Mark Manley

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