Joint Custody and Child Counseling

stefk18February 27, 2009

SS, 8, has been seeing a counselor since DH's divorce when he was 4. DH was not consulted on the decision for him to see a counselor, but did not argue with it because he thought it was necessary. Since we were married five months ago BM has began taking younger SS, 5, to the counselor as well. We only learned about this from SS5. We were never consulted about it by BM. When DH asked BM about it, she said it was just to "get him comfortable" with the psychologist.

We see no reason for this. He is a perfectly happy little boy.

From what I understand, parents who have joint custody need to agree on children's medical treatment, including psychology. Is this correct?

Any insight would be appreciated.

Just a background...BM has an extensive history of putting a negative spin on EVERYTHING we do in our home. DH is a very involved, loving, father and also a professional. She is constantly critizing everything from our nutritional choices to the way DH coaches SS baseball team. She even asks him not to show up at SS sporting events because it is too uncomfortable for HER. Of course we do not comply, and the boys love their dad's support.

We don't want SS5 to become convinced he has problems, and begin seeing her on a regular basis. And for that matter we really don't see a need for SS8 to continue to see the therapist. They are both very happy and well adjusted boys.

SS8 has told us that BM is now in the room in all therapy sessions with both boys, and tells us they "aren't supposed to say anything" to us about what they talk about with the psychologist. We really think BM is determined to make our marriage a cause of concern for the boys.

DH has called the psychologist to discuss whether the boys need to see her at all, and she does not return his phone calls. The psychologist has told us in our previous visits that she does not believe in shared placement of children (which we are trying to accomplish right now).

I know it sounds kind of crazy, but we are beginning to think the psychologist is not a neutral third party with

the children's best interests in mind. We would like to put a stop to the children seeing her.

DH has a meeting with our attourney on Tuesday to discuss the legalities of this, but I am curious if anyone has any insight?

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mom_of_4

I wish I knew what the legalities were but I think you are doing the right thing in consulting an attorney. It certainly sounds like the pych. might not be a nuetral third party... and any parent saying Dont tell the other parent xyz... is never never a good thing.

Worse case perhaps you could take them to a pysch of your choosing if for nothing else to get a second opinion for court stuff. I mean whats good for the goose....

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:44PM
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stefk18

We have considered taking them to another pysch, but are concerned it would confuse them. We also really don't want to resort to tit-for-tat antics, but we also want to protect ourselves and the kids...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:34PM
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sweeby

"From what I understand, parents who have joint custody need to agree on children's medical treatment, including psychology. Is this correct?"

Sometimes, but not always. Frequently the agreement is worded so that either parent has the right to consent to whatever medical treatment he/she deems necessary and appropriate.

"And for that matter we really don't see a need for SS8 to continue to see the therapist. They are both very happy and well adjusted boys."

I have no trouble believing that. You probably DO see two happy and well-adjusted little boys. But please also consider the possibility that this is NOT what BioMom genuinely sees during the time they're with her. I say this because I have been in exactly the same position BioMom is in, where I thought counseling was needed and BioDad and StepMom didn't. I had DS for 90% of the time when he had homework to do, laundry and chores. I saw the difficulties he had focusing on his homework, the struggles to read. Daddy had him one evening and every other weekend, and they did not spend that time doing anything that made DS unhappy. (Like homework or reading.) If DS wanted something on Dad's time, Daddy ran out and got it for him -- So guess what? DS was never unhappy at Dad's house. At age 13, DS went to live with Dad and our custody/visitation time reversed. And guess what? Then I only saw the happy kid and Dad and StepMom finally saw the kid who had learning and attention difficulties. (Maybe I should have agreed to a change in custody early on so DS could have gotten the help they insisted he didn't need...) The irony...

"we are beginning to think the psychologist is not a neutral third party with the children's best interests in mind. We would like to put a stop to the children seeing her."

Not hard to see why you would come to this conclusion. And in fact, she might not be impartial, because she has only heard one side of the story. But I do find it hard to believe that she doesn't have the children's' best interests at heart. She just may have a biased view of what those 'best interests' are. Of course, you and Dad also have a biased view...

Rather than seeking to terminate the therapy (which wouldn't be hard to twist against you), what about horning in on taking an active role in the therapy? In other words, what if DH were to call the therapist to express his concern that whatever issues the children are having, couldn't they be better handled if both households were on board? He could legitimately express the concern that she is only hearing one side of the story, and that the children seem to have been instructed not to tell him anything -- which has him concerned. That surely if she is going to work in the children's best interests, that she will want to hear a balanced account and a perspective from the other parent... That the parents, if working together with an independent expert, might be able to better help their children?...

Just some thoughts from another angle...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:48PM
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stefk18

sweeby- Your thoughts make sense, we intitally felt that we should be an active part in the therapy.

However, as I mentioned on the initial posting, we have been to see the therapist several times. She has made it clear each time that no matter the circumstances she does not agree with joint placement. And the minute we mentioned this notion to her she dismissed any and all concerns we had. Recently she does not return DH's calls and will not update him on the treatment of the children.

I knew I would receive a response such as this, but truely the children are being manipulated. We are open to productive and impartial therapy. This is not it!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 4:05PM
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