You may have heard reports about the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce and custody case. News sources have reported about domestic violence allegations against Brad Pitt. And it appears that the parties’ negotiated agreement includes therapeutic visitation for Pitt. Therapeutic visitation can be ordered when there is estrangement or alienation between the child and a parent. There are many different reasons why this can happen: parental interference, abuse or other mental health issues which cause the child to refuse visitation. The child may be justified in his mistrust, or may have had an unreasonable reaction to a parent. Regardless of parental fault, the courts must deal with the situation as it is, and attempts to repair the broken relationship must be made. Visitation sessions may then take place with a mental health professional. These are very difficult situations and typically would require counsel for both parents and navigating the reunification process. The cost can also be substantial as the court may be scheduling intermittent hearings during this process as well as the cost of having an expert mental health professional working with the family. The court may also order psychological examinations of the parents and/or child in these cases.
-Heather L. Sunderman, Esq.