When divorcing couples have children, New Jersey Courts make decisions based on the best interests of the child. That may include ordering the child and/or the parents to undergo therapy. If the parties refuse to submit to therapy or interfere with a child’s participation in therapy, courts will hold them accountable as evidenced by a recent New Jersey decision involving Court-ordered parent-child reunification therapy.
In Ji v. Lo, the plaintiff appealed several court orders related to a requirement in the divorce judgment for reunification therapy to foster the defendant’s relationship with his daughter. The trial court found that the plaintiff obstructed and interfered with the reunification therapy, and ordered the plaintiff to pay for the reunification therapy and pay a sanction for the missed sessions. The Appellate Court agreed with the trial Court stating there was ample evidence of the obstruction and the trial Court could impose sanctions as a coercive measure to effectuate the enforcement of a prior order.
The plaintiff also argued that “intensive therapy” was not proper, since “intensive therapy” was different from “reunification therapy,” and therefore required a showing of changed circumstances and an analysis of the child’s best interests. However, the trial and appellate courts found that the intensive therapy was part of the ongoing efforts to implement reunification and after years of failed efforts, it was not an abuse of discretion to order such therapy.
The takeaway for divorced parents is to seek the advice of counsel in all custody and parenting time matters before any orders are entered.
If the Court has ordered therapy for you, your spouse, and your children, contact us for a consultation.