The need for your child to have therapeutic support can happen at any time following a divorce or other family court action. It can happen before, during, or after family law litigation or during the course of custodial exchanges. A parent with custody of their child must be familiar with the signs that their child may require medical or mental health support and should react by providing support when support is needed. Failure to provide a child adequate support can make the parent of the child negligent in the event of a medical need or a life threatening emergency. Serious concerns should be addressed with a therapist or health care provider as soon as possible to avoid further negative reactions or irreparable harm.
Child Custody, Signs that you’re Child May Need Therapeutic Help / Counseling:
• Developmental delay or a relapse of behavior to an earlier age – regressing in milestones and exhibiting a failure to thrive.
• Learning difficulties or attention problems.
• behavioral problems; such as, excessive anger, acting out, bedwetting, eating disorders, significant decline in grades/ academic motivation especially if your child normally maintains high grades.
• episodes of sadness, tearfulness, or depression.
• social withdrawal or isolation.
• being the victim of bullying or bullying other children.
• decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities.
• Overly aggressive behavior (such as biting, kicking, or hitting) and or a lack of compliance to authority – school officials, police, or professionals.
• sudden changes in appetite (particularly in adolescents).
• insomnia or increased sleepiness.
• excessive school absenteeism or tardiness.
• mood swings (i.e. happy one minute and upset the next).
• development of or an increase in physical complaints (such as headache, stomachache, or not feeling well) despite a normal physical exam by your doctor.
• management of a serious, acute, or chronic illness.
• signs of alcohol, drug, or other substance use (such as solvents or prescription drug abuse).
• problems in transitions (following separation, divorce, or relocation).
• bereavement issues.
• custody evaluations.
• following sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events.
The signs of emotional and psychological issues following a family law case are exceptionally common and can manifest themselves in a variety of ways – increasing in number or severity over time. A therapist should definitely be called when any of the signs interferes in a child’s ability to maintain daily activities or routines. In some family law cases an attorney will need to be contacted for legal advice on how to handle the legal aspect of the situation or request for an emergency hearing to protect and benefit the child.
If abuse/ neglect is discovered and reported to authorities/ DCFS then the child should automatically receive therapist support. If the symptoms are believed to be the direct result of Hostile Aggressive Parenting or Parent Alienation Syndrome then the courts should be notified prior to treatment of the situation and the effected parent should request for emergency relief and therapeutic intervention.
Child Custody, Additional Indicators that Therapy is Necessary:
• Heightened separation anxiety
• Interference in normal family functions
• Unrealistic fears, paranoia, unreasonable refusals
• False auditory or visual sensations, false memory, altered levels of awareness
• Depression, suicide, assault, property damage
Child Custody, How a Therapist May Help:
A therapist may identify the actual problem causing the adverse emotional or psychological reaction and develop an adequate treatment plan and goals of therapy. A therapist may also testify on behalf of the problems identified and the treatment plan of the child in a court of law— if necessary. If the therapist is court appointed then they may offer their recommendations to the court to enforce such treatment or prevent any actions that may interfere in the treatment program. Therapy intervention may prevent the continuance of emotional and psychological reactions in response to the adverse stimulus the child is experiencing- allowing the child to recover. Lastly a therapist may provide a child with adequate coping mechanisms to prevent the child from relapse in the future in similar situations. If you believe there is an emergency however it is necessary to contact 911 for assistance.