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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

02 JAN 2013

Unknown unknowns and other necessary reasons to go to war (or instruct experts)

Dr Joshua Carritt-Baker

Clinical Psychologist:

When is an expert necessary in Family Court proceedings?  It is clear it is not being suggested that experts are unnecessary in Family Court cases - but there remains an interesting question as to how and when it is determined that an expert is necessary.  There are some complex (and perhaps slightly hidden) issues relating to the information-acquisition exercise in multifaceted family situations.  What is it that is 'known' - and how sure are we about it?  Are we clear about what we still need to find out?  And, perhaps most importantly, what about the things we don't (yet) know we don't know - the 'unknown unknowns'? 

Derided as Donald Rumsfeld's famous speech was in many quarters, it was in fact borrowing from a very clear and well-established set of ideas relating to our ability to understand what it is we know and don't know.  With that in mind, I provide a number of clinical examples to illustrate the problems that can occur in this area when clinicians and clinical science are excluded from the decision-making process.

The full version of this article appears in the January 2013 issue of Family Law.


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