This article originally appeared in the Journal of Civil Litigation, Vol. XXXI, No. 1 (Spring 2019), a publication of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys. It appears here with permission.
H. Robert Yates, III, current Chair of the VADA’s Professional Liability Section, and his associate, Laura K. Musick, look at the tort of intentional interference with parental rights (IIPR) in their article, “The Unintended Consequences of Wyatt v. McDermott: Its Use as a Sword Against Professionals in Custody Cases.” The Supreme Court of Virginia recognized the common law tort of IIPR in the Wyatt case. However, as Yates & Musick describe, since then “litigation-hungry parents and guardians continue to test the boundaries of IIPR, using it as a sword in civil litigation against guardians ad litem, psychologists, and counselors to challenge their recommendations to family court judges as the ‘cause’ of adverse custody rulings.” The article outlines numerous defenses that are available to defeat these types of suits.