How Can Reunification Therapy Help a Child After Their Parent’s Divorce?
Children often suffer great emotional distress and anguish when their parents divorce. Depending on their age and situation, children cannot explain their emotions and concerns. As a result, they may suffer in silence or begin to act out because of the loss of a unified family structure.
Obtaining Reunification Therapy in a Los Angeles Child Custody Case
A non-custodial parent can request the court to include an order for reunification therapy in a custody order. The parents may also agree to reunification therapy as part of their negotiated parenting plan.
Unfortunately, a parent might give into a child’s reluctance to comply with the visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent. Generally, allowing a child to distance themselves from a fit parent is not in the child’s best interest. Children need to know that both parents love and care for them, regardless of the relationship status of their parents.
Mediation may work in some situations. The parents may work together to find a resolution that is in their child’s best interest. However, a custodial parent may refuse to participate in mediation or discount the value of working together to resolve the issue. They may dispute the need for reunification therapy, claiming that the children do not want to see their other parent.
In some cases, a custodial parent engages in parental alienation. They actively attempt to disrupt and harm the relationship between their child and the child’s other parent. In other cases, the custodial parent could be jealous of the child’s relationship with the other parent and may not force the issue of visitation.
Whatever the reason might be, the court can appoint a qualified reunification therapist if a parent provides sufficient evidence that there is a need for professional help to resolve the family disruption caused by divorce. The court’s order should require both parents to actively participate in the therapy, including encouraging their children to participate. The order may also address specific issues such as domestic abuse, substance use, mental illness, and other issues that could impact the child’s safety and well-being.
What to Expect When You Begin Reunification Therapy After a Los Angeles Divorce
The reunification therapist will contact each parent to schedule a family assessment. The therapist will review the information from the custody case, including any custody evaluations performed, current child custody orders, and parenting plans. The therapist will meet with each parent individually and might meet with others related to the case, including counselors, family members, and parenting coordinators.
The reunification therapist develops a plan for parent education to cover various topics. Parents learn about family dynamics during a divorce action, the negative impacts of these dynamics, and how children may feel aligned with one parent over the other parent.
The therapist continues to gather information from the parents. Parents often blame each other for their child’s problems after a divorce. The reunification therapist will not judge the parents or begin with a preconceived opinion about why the family needs reunification.
A reunification therapist interviews the children during the assessment. They learn why a child might resist visitation with a parent. Some complaints may be justified but not rise to the level of eliminating parental contact.
During this portion of the therapy, the goal is to learn about the family, build trust with the parents and children, and develop a therapy plan that benefits the entire family.
Is Family Reunification Therapy Successful?
After completing the assessment, a therapist usually schedules meetings with the child and the non-custodial parent. During these sessions, the therapist addresses the child’s feelings and thoughts about visitation and their relationship with the non-custodial parent. A reunification therapist coaches the parent and the child to guide them toward a positive, blame-free relationship.
The therapist also meets with the custodial parent and child to observe how they interact. The therapist may identify intentional or unintentional signals the custodial parent sends the child regarding their other parent.
The therapist may meet with each parent during reunification therapy for individual sessions. The therapist coaches the parents on modifying their behavior and attitudes that could negatively impact the child’s relationship with either parent.
The goal of reunification therapy is to increase a child’s time with their non-custodial parent and build a closer child-parent bond. Therapy results vary and depend heavily on the circumstances and the parent’s willingness to participate. However, reunification therapy can produce positive results when the parents put forth the effort and focus on doing what is best for their children.
Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer Today
If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates today to learn how we can assist you.