Koch v. Koch, 424 N.J. Super. 542 (Ch. Div. 2011) (approved for publication on March 16, 2012).
Opinion by Gilson, J.S.C.
Issue: Can one party compel the recording of all interviews conducted by all experts involved in a child custody evaluation?
Holding: No. A party has the right to record his or her own interviews with a mental health professional in a child custody evaluation but does not have the right to compel the other party’s expert to record interviews of the other party or the party’s children. The court’s responsibility to protect a child from the potential harm that could result from the recording and disclosure of his or her interview with a child custody evaluator outweighs a litigant’s right to discovery. No expert has the right to make recordings of the interviews of children available to counsel or a party without the express authorization of the court. Any recordings made during a custody evaluation must be released to all counsel, all parties and all custody experts under a protective order which prohibits use of the recordings in any other litigation and prohibits the contents from being revealed to the children or third parties.
David M. Wildstein is a senior shareholder in the New Jersey law firm Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer P.A., and chair of the firm’s Family Law Team. He has exclusively practiced family law for over 40 years, been a member of several New Jersey Supreme Court Committees that have shaped the rules and procedures for family law in this State, and lectures to lawyers and judges at the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education.