"As a lawyer, if Mr. Gibson were my client, I would tell him to back off from the custody fight right now," said Debra Opri, a family law attorney based in California. "Don't even fight it, because that judge can take hold of your life and say 'You're going to rehab, you're going to get anger management treatment, you're going to do all these things because the child's life is in danger.' He should really remove himself from the arena and say she can have 100-percent custody."
Different rules apply in the criminal sphere. Opri speculated that because of the media glare on the case, police will press charges against Gibson. But because California is a two-party state -- the law requires that both people consent to the recording of a conversation -- it's unlikely Grigorieva's recorded phone calls will appear in court.
"In a criminal investigation, there is no way those tapes are ever going to get into evidence," she said.
As he did in 2006, Opri expects that if he's pressed with criminal charges, Gibson will cop a plea deal.
"I think he will say, 'I've got serious problems and I'm going to get help,'" she said. "I don't see Mel Gibson doing jail time. I think he probably will become an inpatient in a psychiatric establishment."
However, if Grigorieva offers authorities photographic evidence of Gibson's abuse or gets her dentist to testify that Gibson indeed broke her teeth, he could get sent to the slammer. Regardless, Gibson might want to get his head examined immediately.
"We're seeing him gradually deteriorate and starting to break down, which is what happens when a mental disorder is left untreated," said Dr. Archer. "This has gone on for so long that he could be suffering brain damage. Unless he gets treatment, it's going to continue to get worse."