DAILY TOOL: How Might a Child Therapist Affect Your Child Custody Outcome?

TOOL OF THE DAY: Child Therapists and Parenting Facilitators

CATEGORY: Family Law

Child therapists do not determine the best interest of your child unless you authorize them to do so. One way that you can counter some of what a therapist is testifying to in your case is to ask them questions that they have to answer in your favor. An example is if they are suggesting that your child not be given more time with you then ask that therapist if tearing a child from a fit parent is harmful. After they answer “Yes” you have started a foundation for countering the idea that the child shouldn’t have more time with you.

There are many pre-formed ideas to overcome at a trial court level. This is why most of the time you are going to lose at that level. The judges generally cannot be convinced in the short amount of time that you have for the trial. Regardless it is important that you get these ideas laid out there properly if you want any shot at even convincing the next level of judges in the appellate courts.

Here are some of the ideas you are going to encounter that you need to overcome:

1. Equal time does not solve the problem. The parents can still fight.

2. If the children are getting stressed out, one of the parents’ time should be limited.

The parenting facilitator could be another person that most likely is going to try and make it difficult for you to get equal time with your child.

If you can object to having a parenting facilitator or having a child therapist testify that is always the best option. But if the court is going to allow them to testify anyway, do your best to frame how the court should be defaulting to equal parenting unless there is unfitness or clear and present danger to the child and that there could be disputes regardless of whether there is unequal or equal time. And that this is not what they should be focused on. They will be focused on whether or not the parents can get along when that is not what they should be focused on.

Try to introduce parallel parenting where both parents parent separately with minimal interaction with each other. This has worked well with parents who are high conflict.

General mental health specialists who work with equal parenting groups are familiar with this type of parenting. And more courts should become more familiar with this as well.

Then you can overcome 1 and 2 above. The parents fighting doesn’t matter unless the disagreement starts to interfere with the other parent’s time and rights. And children get stressed out periodically, as long as this isn’t to the point where the child is going to suffer permanent harm or end up in danger, then being stressed is not grounds to interfere with someone’s rights.

And we have found that when the court butts out and doesn’t threaten either parent’s time and rights with their children, that parents settle down. And when parents settle down so do the children.