Court-Ordered Counseling in San Diego Custody Cases
In a perfect world, children would grow up in loving two-parent homes, but that is not always possible. While you should not stay in an unhappy or unsafe relationship solely for the kids, you do have to be able to co-parent successfully if the relationship does not work out.
If the parents are not getting along, and the child drop-offs are filled with drama and causing stress for the child, or if a parent is not obeying a custody order, a San Diego family court judge may put the parents in counseling to rectify the situation.
Mandatory counseling is ordered when there are disagreements about child custody or visitation between the parents. Keep in mind that judges only intervene when it is determined there is a danger to the child’s best interests because of this disagreement. A detailed report of the reasons for counseling must be given as evidence in court before the counseling is approved.
If domestic violence is occurring or has taken place within the last five years, the counseling may be held separately, and the child may have no contact with the abusive parent. If the violence is geared toward the child as well as the ex-spouse, there will be no counseling offered and the child may be taken out of that parent’s custody completely.
You can be ordered to regularly attend counseling for up to a year. The overall goal is to promote effective parenting and communication going forward. Regardless of how you feel about your ex, you have to reach a point of being cordial with one another.
In addition to participating in counseling, if you keep these tips in mind it may get you one step closer to having a healthy co-parenting relationship:
- Empathize with your children: Put yourself in your children’s shoes. Do not make them feel bad for wanting to spend time with the other parent. They should be able to freely express their feelings without fear of offending you.
- Be open and flexible with the schedule: Although you should stick to the court-ordered custody plan as much as possible, if a situation comes up and you need to switch a day, both parents should be willing to do so to keep the peace.
- Remember, your ex is your children’s parent, too: Just because their parenting style is different from yours does not mean it is incorrect. Unless an action is provably dangerous to the children’s health or mental well-being, the courts probably won’t consider it a problem.
Although you may be required to go to counseling, the courts will not cover the cost unless it is proven that both parents are having financial hardships. If there are no hardships, the cost will be split evenly among the parents. Court-ordered counseling in San Diego is mandatory, and you could face penalties if you skip classes, such as being held in contempt of court and ordered to pay a fine. You cannot modify the duration of your counseling unless it is absolutely necessary, and this also must be proven to the family court judge.
If you are struggling to create a healthy relationship with your ex-spouse, or you have already been ordered to seek counseling, give Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., a call at (858) 458-9500 to go over your child custody options. We will work tirelessly to assist you in doing what’s best for your children and restoring a happy environment for them going forward.