30. Child Psychiatry and the Law

  1. William M. Klykylo2 and
  2. Jerald Kay3
  1. Douglas Mossman

Published Online: 30 MAR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119962229.ch30

Clinical Child Psychiatry, Third Edition

Clinical Child Psychiatry, Third Edition

How to Cite

Mossman, D. (2012) Child Psychiatry and the Law, in Clinical Child Psychiatry, Third Edition (eds W. M. Klykylo and J. Kay), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119962229.ch30

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Psychiatry, Wright State University School of Medicine, 627 S. Edwin C Moses Blvd, P.O. Box 927, Dayton, OH 45401-0927, USA

  2. 3

    Department of Psychiatry, Wright State University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 927, Dayton, OH 45401-0927, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry, 260 Stetson Street, Suite 3200, PO Box 670559, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0559, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 MAR 2012
  2. Published Print: 30 MAR 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119993346

Online ISBN: 9781119962229



  • minor;
  • competence;
  • emancipated;
  • mature;
  • privacy;
  • consent;
  • disclosure;
  • legality;
  • covered entity;
  • protected health information;
  • plaintiff;
  • tort;
  • credibility;
  • collaborative law;
  • mediation;
  • juvenile delinquent;
  • waiver;
  • referral


The practice of child forensic psychiatry takes place amid ever-changing clinical, social, and legal issues, and a society whose work habits, family life, and communities are in constant flux. This chapter provides basic background information about the legal matters that child psychiatrists commonly encounter in their practices; it does not provide an exhaustive treatment of issues related to children, child psychiatry, and the law. A historical perspective of the modern legal status of children and adolescents is briefly sketched, before introducing the legal concepts essential to understanding the treatment of minors, notably issues surrounding consent for treatment. The rights of minors to privacy and confidentiality are described, as are the laws and rules concerning psychiatric hospitalization of minors. The requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) concerning handling of “protected health information” (PHI) are highlighted. The complex legal issues facing clinicians involved in cases of child abuse and neglect are reviewed. Knowledge of the rights of disabled children helps in ensuring their entitlement to education, and, moreover, definitions of disability are intrinsic to decisions in many contexts, including whether a child can act as a plaintiff or witness in court proceedings. Similarly, knowledge of the law is necessary for psychiatrists involved, either as therapist or custody evaluator, with children who are involved in custody disputes. An outline of the US juvenile court system then precedes an introduction to courtroom matters for the child psychiatrist.