What is Reunification Therapy?
Divorce has the potential to be extremely detrimental to parent/child relationships. Whether due to the influence of an angry and resentful parent who holds primary custody, the harmful effects of being witness to conflict between the parents, or a prolonged physical absence, children of divorce may become profoundly estranged from one of their parents. While often considered controversial, reunification therapy has been lauded by many professionals as a means to rekindle very damaged parent/child relationships. Learn more about reunification therapy below.
Reunification therapy defined
“Reunification therapy” is not strictly defined in any one way, but is instead an umbrella term for therapy aimed at repairing a relationship between a parent and child. Reunification therapy provides a safe and supervised space for a parent and child to reconnect, away from the conflict between the child’s parents. This form of therapy is often aimed at allowing the child to develop a healthy relationship with the estranged parent that is separate from their relationship with the other parent.
When reunification therapy is ordered by the court, the events that occur in the therapist’s office will not usually be kept confidential, as they normally would be in therapy. In some cases, the therapist will update the court on the progress of therapy on a regular basis to keep the judge apprised of whether the therapy appears successful, or if the therapist believes, based on what they’ve learned in the sessions, that the custodial arrangement should change in some way.
Courts have ordered reunification therapy in cases of:
Parental alienation: Where a parent has conducted a deliberate campaign to turn a child against their other parent, a judge may decide that reunification that slowly reintroduces the child to their parent is the best way to allow the child to truly get to know that parent, rather than only basing their opinion of the parent on what they’ve been told.
Substance abuse: Children may feel safer reconnecting with a parent who had a problem with drugs or alcohol, but who has been rehabilitated, in the context of therapy.
High-conflict divorce: If children have witnessed intense fighting between their parents before or during a divorce, or parents have been unable to agree to a visitation schedule, reunification therapy can reintroduce regular contact in a calm, friendly setting between the parent and child.
For assistance with a child custody dispute before the New Jersey family part, contact the compassionate, experienced, and effective Englewood family law attorneys at Herbert & Weiss for a consultation at 201-440-6300, with additional offices in Moonachie.