Picture of Louis Cosenza

The Right to Confront Court Appointed Expert Witnesses in Custody Matters

Judges in Louisiana are authorized to refer litigants in custody matters to mental health professionals such as psychologists for an evaluation of their fitness as parents. Because judges choose the professional he or she is considered the court’s expert not the expert of either party. The opinions of these professionals are not binding on judges but may be considered among other factors. Judges usually defer to their experts’ opinions when deciding custody matters. Judges receive the expert’s opinion in the form of a written report which must also be provided to each party. Each party also has the right to to cross-examine the expert during the trial of the custody or visitation dispute. In Barker v. Barker, Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, 2014 CU 0775, Mr. Barker asked the court for a modification of a custody judgment. The judge appointed Dr. Lambert to evaluate the medical, educational, and social issues presented by the parents’ claims. When the case was called for trial, Dr. Lambert had not yet provided the judge with a report and was not present in court. Over the objection of Ms. Barker, the judge heard the case. He told the parties that he would decide their case after he had received Dr. Lambert’s report. Approximately 1 ½ months after the trial, Dr. Lambert delivered his report to the judge. Neither party received a copy of the report or had an opportunity to cross-examine Dr. Lambert. The judge denied Mr. Barker’s request for a custody modification and Mr. Barker appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial judge’s decision and sent the case back for another hearing in order to give each party a chance to read the report and to cross-examine Dr. Lambert. The Barker case reaffirmed the rights of litigants in custody cases to due process in connection with the reports and opinions of court appointed experts. If an expert is appointed in your custody case, make sure you obtain a copy of the report and talk to your lawyer about whether you should insist that the expert appear at trial and be questioned.

What Our Clients Say
★★★★★
I highly recommend Louis
I hired Louis to represent me in my custody battle. From the start he was upfront and honest with me, if he said he was going to do something he did it and he never attempted to settle for anything less than what I was asking. He was not afraid to go head to head with opposing counsel which is what we ended up having to do. Thanks to Louis and his experience and knowledge of family law we won our case. I highly recommend Louis and will always use him for my future family Court needs.
Caleb
★★★★★
Brilliant Mind and Excellent Communication
I had no idea how to even look for an attorney when I found myself needing one. Mr. Cosenza is the best attorney I have encountered, and I took a lot of time finding one. He is brilliant in matters of the law. He approached my case from every angle. I am so thankful he was my attorney. I started out knowing absolutely nothing about court related matters. He answered even my smallest questions and guided me through to understand what was best for me and my children. He was excellent in communication with quick replies. He will have all of my recommendations.
Becky
★★★★★
Attorney Cosenza at his craft
My journey with Mr. Cosenza began nearly 3 years ago when I contacted him about divorce proceedings. During our initial consultation he told me exactly what to expect and we discussed cost, which I thought reasonable. After retaining him as my attorney and finalizing my divorce, things became fairly intense during the negotiation of the property settlement; yet he was relentless and tenacious. In the end, we prevailed victorious and everything came together perfectly. Attorney Cosenza always responded in a timely manner to my many calls, emails and texts. He gave clear, detailed, rational explanations of what I could expect. His work on my case has been life changing, in the best way possible. I am forever in his debt.
Sean
★★★★★
He does his very best
Working with Louis Cosenza truly helped to make my very difficult emotional and legal situation feel much more comfortable as I knew his experience and expertise was there to support and guide me. He knows the law and he does his very best to use that knowledge to represent his clients in and out of the courtroom.
Craig
★★★★★
Hands down the best experience I’ve had with a lawyer
I would like to start by saying I am from TX and my ex wife tried to file a judgment in LA. I contacted a number of lawyers that explained to me that this maybe a process that they could look into. I spoke with Mr. Cosenza with his 30 plus year of experience and he assured me this was not going to be a issue. He was very informative on the proceedings that where going to take place. He couldn’t have called it any better. There wasn’t even a need for me to travel to show in court. It is definitely worth a little extra to hire one of the best. I hope I hope won’t be needing his help again but if I do need another lawyer in LA. I won’t hesitate to contact him and he will be my lawyer again.
Michael