Arizona parents who are in the middle of a custody dispute might find that the children involved might have to undergo reunification therapy mandated by a court. This type of therapy, which is still a controversial treatment, has been and might continue to be used in cases where a parent blames the other parent of turning the children against them during a divorce, or alienating the parent.
Recently, reunification therapy was mandated by a court in an ongoing Michigan child custody dispute, where three children were sent to juvenile detention for refusing to see their father and then were ordered to undergo therapy to be reunited with their dad. In this case, the father is blaming his former wife of turning their children against him. On the other hand, a few years ago a Canadian judge blocked an attempt to have the children involved in a similar case go to a mandatory reunification therapy program. A group of mental health professionals issued a statement applauding the judge’s decision because this type of ‘deprogramming” therapy might be dangerous for children.
The concerns with the use of reunification therapy start with the ideas that parental alienation is not an official diagnosis and that the treatments involved are not necessarily all beneficial to children. Other medical experts worry that this type of therapy might put children at risk. Some of the treatments are expensive resort or retreat-like events while others involve both parents and the children and take place over time.
Whenever there are issues related to custody, parents should remember that the best interest of the child will be a guiding principle in deciding the fate of the children. It is always best to attempt to come up with a parenting plan that allows children to maintain their relationship with both parents. A family law attorney can provide a divorcing parent with guidance on this issue.