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Parenting Time and Therapy-A New Ruling

In domestic litigation, therapy and mental health can play a large role in determining child custody and parenting time. In some cases, therapy may be required between the child and parent regarding a number of issues, including addressing past issues or the general parent/child relationship.

A recent Court of Appeals case discussed required psychotherapy for a parent, and how it relates to that parent’s ability to have parenting time with the minor Child1. In this case, the parties had one child together, and Mother had 2 children from a previous relationship. There was a history of sexual abuse for both Mother and one of her older children from a previous relationship and allegations of abuse against Father related to the parties’ youngest child.

The parties submitted to two (2) custody evaluations and a third custody evaluator reviewed the findings of the first two (2) reports. The initial custody evaluator had recommended “intensive individual psychodynamically-oriented psychotherapy”, which the Court adapted as a recommendation and Ordered. Mother appealed several issues, including the mandated therapy.

The Court of Appeals held that while there is no specific law in Indiana that would mandate psychotherapy as part of a divorce, there is a law in Indiana that allows for restrictions on the non-custodial parent’s parenting time if parenting time may endanger or impair the physical or emotional health of the minor child2.

The Court held that there was sufficient evidence to show that Mother presented a significant risk of impairing the Child’s emotional development; and therefore, requiring Mother to comply with the Court-Ordered psychotherapy before instating parenting time was appropriate. The Court of Appeals also noted that Court-Ordered psychotherapy may not be appropriate in every case, but as here, where the purpose was to protect the minor Child’s emotional health, it was appropriate.

We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring a recent case regarding recent case updates on therapy and parenting time. This blog is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.

  1. See Pitcavage v. Pitcavage
  2. See Ind. Code 31-17-4-1.
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