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What happens when co-parents disagree on therapy for a child?

When children of divorcing parents experience difficulty adjusting to the split, it's often hard to determine whether they should see a therapist. It's not uncommon for co-parents to disagree on this issue. People's views about seeking psychological help can be very strong. If a couple is already battling over multiple issues in the divorce, it's not surprising that they may disagree about whether their children should get psychological counseling.

If you take your child to a therapist against your co-parent's wishes, you shouldn't keep that from him or her. Unless that parent's rights have been taken away by the court, he or she has the right to know. Further, if you instruct your child not to tell your ex, you're asking that child to keep secrets from a parent, which isn't healthy.

When your co-parent finds out about the therapy, which will inevitably happen, you've damaged any trust that person may still have in you. Your co-parent is also less likely to trust the therapist, which will make it hard to accept advice that could help your child.

If your spouse seeks therapy for your child, it's important to be involved. Even if it's being done against your wishes or you were initially kept in the dark, refusing to be involved will only hurt your child. Therapists need to understand the family dynamics to fully understand what's going on with a child. That means getting to know both parents and possibly other adults in your child's life.

This may involve having sessions with just your co-parent. Remember, these are not an opportunity to rehash old grievances. The purpose is for you and the therapist to discuss ways to help your child. Often, this may involve changing your own negative practices or communication patterns.

The cost of therapy is often one of the reasons parents disagree on whether to pursue it for their child. A parent who doesn't want it may believe that he or she shouldn't have to share in the cost.

If you're still in the divorce process, your Arizona family law attorney can work to either seek help with the expense or fight a request for payment. If your child support settlement is already finalized and you want to amend it to cover your child's therapy, again, your attorney can assist you. Remember that the focus should be on the best interests of your child.

Source: Columbus Parent, "Family Therapy: Guiding Kids Through Divorce," Carl Grody, March 20, 2018

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