Beware When Using a Therapist in a Family Law Case

There are so many different reasons why you may consider using a therapist in your family law. A lot of couples going through a divorce have their own personal therapists, which can be a very healthy way to deal with the difficult personal situation they are going through. Some parents need a therapist to assist them in effectively communicating and co-parenting. Many, if not most, minor children have counselors to talk to about their parent’s separation and other issues related to a family law case they are involved in. Finally, sometimes when parents are estranged from their minor children it is required that they attend something called “reunification therapy” to try and rebuild the relationship between the estranged parent and the child.

Things to be Avoid if Using a Therapist in Your Family Law Case

Therapists Testifying in Court

They usually have a bias.

Additionally, therapists value the confidential nature of their client relationship. For that reason, they often hesitate to testify in a case. Subpoenaing them and forcing them to come testify may not have a good result. So, a therapist is not a good witness to call, in most scenarios, in family law matters.

Similarly, your child’s therapist does not want to come testify, for many of the reasons outlined above. Your Judge typically does not want your child’s therapist to come testify, either. There is currently a statute which prohibits disclosure of information from children’s therapists to Guardian Ad Litem’s and Child Representatives in domestic relations matters. Public policy in Illinois is that a child’s relationship with their therapist should remain private.

Don’t Delegate Decision-Making Authority

For example, putting into an Allocation Judgment that the parties will take the recommendations of a therapist for purposes of increasing parenting time. The problem with doing this is that a lot of therapists are a bit conservative about pushing the children too far too soon in reunification therapy and they will err on the side of caution.

This can become exhausting after a while. Therapists tend to not mind if time is passing. They want to do a good job and they are careful and cautious, as they should be. However, they have a different standard than does a Guardian Ad Litem or Child Representative, or even a Judge, when it comes to deciding when it is time to move parenting time along. They do not tend to move quickly.

Judges are in a position where they often have to push people along to the next step, otherwise, cases linger before them forever. They are far better suited to keep the decision-making authority as to when parenting time increases, and they typically move faster than a therapist would. However, being in Court often means attorneys and legal expenses, and if there are limited means to continue fighting the fight, using a therapist to move things along may be the only financially viable option. However, extreme caution is necessary when adding provisions such as these to an order.

Contact Anderson & Boback if you have questions about your family law situation including the role your therapist may have in your case.


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