Forcing Child Counseling During Divorce: Can It be Done?
When going through a divorce, families oftentimes contemplate how it will affect their children. Divorce counseling is a way in which children can find a voice for their feelings and a way of coping with everything that is changing in their lives. However, not everyone wishes to put their children through counseling, whether it is coming from one parent, both parents, or a third party; can it be forced upon them?
Counseling: Necessary or Not?
This subject can be tricky, particularly since it deals with the wellbeing of children. It is important to understand that first and foremost, courts are looking to protect children and their wellbeing. With that being said, here are some situations and how they might play out:
- Temporary custody: If you have temporary custody, you have the authority to make decisions for your child and can push for them to have counseling, even if the other parent or guardian disagrees.
- Parents can’t negotiate: When parents cannot agree on counseling terms for their child, a judge could appoint a guardian ad litem (or, a neutral third party, court-appointed authority who looks out for the best interests of the child) who can decide if the child would benefit from counseling. A guardian at litem also has the authority to give recommendations to the judge regarding custody and visitation.
- Both parties agree: This would be considered a consensual agreement and the children would most likely be given counseling.
Overall, what should be considered is how counseling will benefit the child. Regardless of any situation, if a child is having a hard time, has problems with you or your spouse, or may be shutting down, it’s important to seek counseling and help them open up about what they are going through, even before a court may order it. The child may not understand everything that is happening or how to handle it, so having someone to help them through this difficult transition can be very important.
In the end, when a decision is centered around the best interest of the child in the courts eyes, counseling will likely be ordered.
Let Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor Be of Help to You
At Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor, our attorneys value the safety and wellbeing of you and your family and are here to advise. If you need assistance with a divorce or family law matter, we are just a call or email away. Please feel free to call (678) 971-3413 or complete our contact form. We have offices located in Atlanta, Marietta, Alpharetta, and Dunwoody.