How Can I Deal With The Emotional Strain Of My Family Law Case?

In order to deal with the emotional strain of a family law case, it is helpful to build a support network of friends and family, even if that means extending beyond one’s current network of people (some people use church groups for this purpose). Clients who have this type of support do much better emotionally than those who remain isolated. Therapy can also be helpful, and it is probably underutilized. That said, there are some circumstances under which the other side may discover what was said to a therapist. For example, since mental stability is one factor that the court considers in determining custody, one party might be allowed to subpoena the therapy records of the other party. However, the amount of information the opposing party has direct access to will be limited.

If it seems as though therapy would be helpful in coping with the strain of a case, then it should probably be done despite any potential risk, but it is important to discuss such decisions with an attorney. If concerned about the other side discovering the details of the records, a person may simply want to have a discussion with their therapist about keeping the notes vague and non-detailed.

Aside from having a support network and perhaps undergoing therapy, hobbies and coping mechanisms for stress can be very helpful.

Should I Take My Children To A Therapist While We Are Going Through With The Divorce?

During an initial divorce or custody action when both parents have been determined to be legal custodians of their child, either parent could make the decision to take that child to therapy. If a court has decided that one party has sole legal custody, then that parent could make the decision to take the child to therapy on a non-emergency basis. On an emergency basis, such as a suicide threat or attempt by the child, either parent could make the decision to take the child to therapy. If the parties have joint legal custody on a temporary basis, they would be required to discuss with one another whether or not to take the child to therapy before a decision is made. Oftentimes, one parent will be given “final decision-making authority” by the court. However, that parent must still receive input from the other parent prior to making a decision.

Whether or not a child should be taken to therapy will depend on the circumstances of the case. I have seen cases in which therapists were overused, and cases in which they were underused. If therapy for a child is going to occur during the course of litigation, parents would be best served by a therapist who reads and becomes familiar with the “AFCC Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapy.” When parents are litigating, the assumptions made by the therapist have to change. More specifically, the therapist has to take extra precautions to involve both parents and not simply assume the truth of what one parent says over the other. Additional precautions are advised by the AFCC guidelines, and a therapist who is familiar with those guidelines will perform their role more admirably and prevent themselves from unintentionally causing harm.

When Is It Necessary To Use Experts Such As Forensic Accountants And Child Therapists In A Family Law Case?

Whether or not it will be necessary to use an expert witness is a very fact-sensitive determination that must be made on a case-by-case basis. However, if a person has the funds to engage an expert witness who can help simplify a complex issue or evaluate an issue that requires expertise, then they should seriously consider using one. There are times when the use of an expert witness would be helpful, but is not necessary. In some cases, the use of an expert witness will be essential despite funds being tight.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children