Divorce, Custody or Visitation Issues
We get these question often....
"Do you offer therapy for those involved in divorce cases?"
"Will you be able to testify for us if we need you to?"
"My child just doesn't want to visit her father and she needs therapy"
"My ex and I cannot agree on anything and my child is in the middle and needs therapy"
"I think my ex touched our child inappropriately because they said something to me. Can you talk to them and find out if something happened?"
"Can you help me change our visitation order? My child is suffering because her mother is so mean to her when she is there. My attorney says I need to bring her to therapy to have a professional be able to confirm this, that I am not just putting it her head."
"My ex is using 'Parental Alienation' to brain wash my child against me. Can you evaluate them for this and then treat it?"
These types of cases are often very scary for a therapist because they bring with them complicated, time consuming and emotionally draining. There are hostile, often manipulative and advesarial processes involved that do not mix well with the methodology of therapy which requires trust, openess, and unconditional positive regard. Therapist want to help and remediate families, not be the tie breaker or authority.
In our experience, it is almost impossible to maintain a healthy therapeutic relationship with a client when their parents (or even if they are the parent) are involved in a divorce/custody/visitation action. There will come a time when one parent becomes suspecious that the therapist is more supportive of the other parent and they often engage in tactics that destroy their child's therapeutic trust including attempting to record the child's session with the therapist, subpoening the child's confidential therapy records for court, attempting to subpeona the therapist to testify about the child's therapy during the legal action, attempts to to paint the other parent in a bad light, active manipulation attempts to triangulate the therapist, and other disturbing behaviors that only serve to divert the therapists attention away from treating the child. Additionally, the parent may seek to undermind the child's relationship with the therapist by telling the child the therapist has told them things the child said in therapy or said things about them to the parent that the therapist did not- thus breaking the child's trust in the therapist. The parent may promise the child the therapist can "fix" a situation that the therapist has no control over. It is inevitable that the true reason for the child needing therapy will never be resolved in these matters or the parents sought therapy for the child for their own self interest and then actively sought to mislead the therapist. Regardless, we have found it is a totally inappropriate situation for both the child and the therapist.
If you are involved in a Divorce, Custody or Visitation litigation and you feel like your child needs therapy, there is an option we offer:
Both parents/custodians/guardians, their attorneys and the children must agree to and sign a legally binding agreement:
Not to ask, seek, subpoena or recommend to the court that the therapist provide clinical records, emails, text messages, phone calls, therapy notes, or testimony regarding the client's treatment at any time.
They must acknowledge that if they attempt to subpeona their/their child's records or therapist, they will agree to pay all the therapist and practices legal fees associated with this breach of contract including the therapists attempts to quash the subpeona or court order.
Agree that therapy is for the care of the identified client ONLY. If at any time one of the parents needs therapy, is court ordered therapy or recommended therapy, they will seek it on their own outside of MACS.
Therapist will not engage in Parental Coordination services.
Therapist will not make visitaiton or custody recommendations.
Prior to accepting you or your child as a client, you will be thoroughly assessed for the ability to comply with these standards of care. If at anytime you are unable or unwilling to do so, we will discuss termination of services and referral to an outside provider.
What if I Need an Evaluation for Parenting Capacity or a Custody Evaluation?
If you need this type of specific evaluation, several things have to be in place for us to help you:
1. The judge in your case needs to appoint Caroline McCloud, MSW, LCSW to be the evaluator. She will not provide this service without a court order appointing her.
2. Both parents needs to agree to Caroline McCloud being the court appointed evalutor.
3. Caroline McCloud must have room in her schedule to provide the service. If she does not, she could tell you when she is able or communicate with your attorney about alternate people she would refer to.
4. All costs of the evaluation, report writing, and court appearance must be paid IN ADVANCE prior to any work beginning.
5. Caroline McCloud will NOT see your child in a therpeutic capacity or make recommendations for your family to be seen by her. Any needs of service will be referred to another clinician.