Family Therapy In Family Law

Family therapy in family law

Helping Separating Families Navigate The Next Chapter

Parenting disputes can be an incredibly taxing and emotional struggle for separated families, with impacts upon parents, extended family members such as grandparents and of course, for the children involved.

There are many problems that lawyers and the family law system cannot easily address on their own and instead, family lawyers often tap into the wealth of therapeutic resources that are available today to assisting separating families navigate the next chapter of their lives.

Family therapy is one of those resources available in the family law “toolkit”.

What is family therapy?

What Is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a type of therapy that occurs with a trained professional who is often a psychologist, counsellor or social worker.

They work with a family unit (or members of the unit) to help address problems with communication and discover the root causes for disputes and conflict between families.

This can be especially helpful in situations where separated parents have difficulty understanding the others’ needs or motivations or responses or simply no longer get along.

Family therapy can also provide an opportunity to understand what children may be feeling, their views on certain issues and their motivations for certain types of responses and behaviours.

Can a court order parties to attend family therapy?

Can A Court Order Parties To Attend Family Therapy?

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, has the power to order parties to attend family therapy as part of the vast array of powers that the Family Law Act provides the court to determine what is, ultimately, in a child’s best interests.

The court can order that parties attend therapy at any point in the court process, including after parenting orders have been made.

Often, the court makes such orders prior to big decisions such as interim or final judgments, so that the parties involved have a chance to fully explore all pathways available to them for resolving their dispute before a court is asked to do it for them.

Parents can of course elect to attend family therapy without an order of the court and this is a common approach.

Family lawyers encourage and support this process so long as it is safe for the parties and the children and likely to bring a positive outcome.

Will the therapy be reported to the court or anyone else?

Will The Therapy Be Reported To The Court Or Anyone Else?

When making a family therapy order, the court can determine whether the therapy should be reportable to the court in due course.

This often happens by way of a formal report from the therapist or can involve persons such as the Independent Children’s Lawyer (if one is appointed) to bring into evidence matters raised by the therapist in therapy. It can also mean that notes are capable of being produced to the court and a therapist may even be required to give evidence in a hearing.

The benefit of reportable therapy is that it allows for the gathering of objective material to determine what is in a child’s bests interests and can allow for certain issues to become known and addressed.

For example, if a child is suffering from a mental health disorder that is explored in therapy, the court can order certain interventions such as the child attending upon a specific psychologist.

Family therapy can also be non-reportable (confidential) if the parties elect, or the court makes such an order.

Please contact us if we can provide you with sympathetic, tailored, specialist advice about your parenting dispute.

Edyta Zurawski - Flipbox Image

About The Author - Edyta Zurawski

Edyta’s passion for over a decade has been helping people navigate the often complex and emotional difficulties that separation presents. Edyta is empathetic, hard-working and diligent in seeking solutions and outcomes for clients that are focused on the individual needs of her clients and their families.

*This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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