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Therapy ordered for children caught up in ugly custody battle

Parents in Texas struggling with child custody issues might hope to avoid the drastic measures applied in another divorce battle that has grabbed national headlines. The case first hit the news when the divorced couple's three children, ages 9, 11 and 14, were sent to juvenile detention. The family court judge detained them because they had refused to see their father. Most recently, a judge sent the children to receive reunification therapy.

Psychiatrists designed this type of therapy to overturn alienation toward a parent. This alienation most often occurs when one parent teaches the children to dislike their other parent. Typically, the therapy entails removing the children from the parent accused of causing the alienation and placing them with the other parent. Through intense therapy sessions, they might overcome their negative feelings toward the parent.

Many mental health practitioners, however, have serious concerns about reunification therapy. They warn that it could be used to undermine legitimate feelings within children, especially if they have actually been abused by the parent they dislike. According to court papers in this child custody battle, the father is seeking full and physical custody of the children. He alleges that the mother has mental health issues and has inflicted her hostility toward him onto the children. In contrast, the mother maintains that the father was abusive.

When parents cannot agree on a custody and visitation plan, then a court must determine how parental duties will be shared or possible denied. A person who needs to assert parental rights could consult with an attorney. Negotiations with other parent could be conducted by the attorney. Additionally, an attorney could represent the parent's interests in court, document the parent's ability to provide and ask the judge to deliver a ruling that grants full or shared custody.

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