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Noncustodial mother wants to know how to get teen children into counseling without father's consent

Your Question:

I posted some months ago. My son was failing in school and I had petitioned for a custody mod. Dad countered with wanting "flexibility" in the order so kids wouldn't have to come to my home for visits.

The judge talked to both kids 16 YO son and 13 yo daughter. He decided no changes would be made to the order and we had no hearing.

According to my lawyer, he told both lawyers that he needed to see more flexibility between the parents. My X will support nothing the children have an interest in when they are with me. My son has a job, but is only allowed to work on MY weekends!

I suggested via my attorney that the judge order post divorce counseling to get the X and to be more flexible. IMHO, I can't be anymore flexible without additonal time and he isn't giving me any cause the order doesn't say he has to.

Do you have any idea on how to get my kids in front of this counsleor? I feel that at their ages they need to be more assertive and they claim they can't be.

I have had counseling with them myself, but dad threatened the counselor with a lawsuit. She refused to go to court to testfy and my lawyer didn't subpeona her due to the judge not wanting to change anything. I know if I just go on my own with the children, we will likely go thru the same stuff agaain and the counsleing will be worthless.

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My Answer:

Based upon your email address, I can see that you've written to me a few times, and I skimmed your prior posts. The theme has been the same, though details may be different each time.

You've consistently expressed that your ex refuses to co-parent with you, attempts to alienate the kids from you, and fails to seek adequate medical/health attention for the kids.

At this point, it really doesn't matter whether any of that is true or not.

I say it doesn't matter because a judge didn't find your argument compelling enough to even go through a hearing. If you couldn't convince a judge of the merits of your case, you have very little hope of using these same arguments to sway it in the future.

That's where you are right now. Your case was extremely weak, in the judge's eyes, and the judge basically said, "These two people need to get along, and I don't want to waste my time on their stupid spats."

I encourage you to look at "Child Custody A to Z - Winning with Evidence" that is on my Recommended Books page. This book will help train your perspective on how to build your case in a way that WILL sway a judge.

In response to your specific question about counseling, I just don't see a way to get the kids into counseling in a manner that would be beneficial to them. Their father opposes it, which means he's going to interfere as best he can, which means that most credible therapists will refuse treatment or end treatment (why should they put up with it?!). A less-than-qualified therapist may need the income and put up with anything, but that person wouldn't be good for your kids anyway.

Instead, I suggest you find a psychologist in your area who is familiar with high-conflict custody cases and alienation tactics. Then YOU go see this person alone to help YOU learn ways to best help your kids cope with what's going on. You would have complete control over those sessions, and you may get some good advice that can really help you as a mother of teens faced with high-conflict parenting.

If everything you're saying is true about your situation, there are dynamics at work that only a trained professional can really understand. The pressure on the kids is immense, and no amount of "instinct" is going to help a parent deliver an ideal support system for kids caught up in it.

I've followed this path myself (i.e., seeking frequent guidance from a professional so I can pump up my ability to support my daughter in the midst of high-conflict parenting), and the value of it for me was immeasurable.

So... you have no control over the father. You currently have no compelling argument in court (i.e., for whatever reason, that path failed you). You have limited control over the kids' health appointments.

But you have 100% control over your knowledge and your ability to support your kids when they are with you. I suggest you take advantage of this last area, and invest yourself in it.

At the same time, get that book and learn more about how to build an effective case that a judge will take seriously. A year from now, you may have enough to try again, and if you follow what that book outlines, you should be more successful.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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