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Counciling/Therapy advice for young kids?

okaynow posted 6/24/2020 14:11 PM

My step-son(SS) and DIL(WDIL) are in the midst of a horrible divorce. (She cheated several times and appears to have mental issues as well.) My grandkids are 4 and 7 and suffering.

The courts in our state have been closed for months due to COVID-19 and legally everything is at a standstill. The kids live with WDIL and her mother in the family home. SS was forced to move out. WDIL will only allow SS to see the children for a very few hours, 3 times a week and only in the family home. The other days he Skypes the kids. Each time he calls them WDIL hovers behind the computer and coaches the kids on what to say and what not to say. When SS asks the kids how their day was, she blows up and accuses him of interrogating them. She repeatedly tells the kids their dad is a bad person and doesn't want to support them; that their dad took all their money (not true at all); and the zinger is - that they now have TWO daddies. Apparently she considers her AP another father to the kids. There's so much more but not necessary here, you get the idea.

In addition, she is a teacher and boasts about her ability to work with children and provide them with support, emotional and otherwise.

The kids are now acting out. The 4 year old has reverted to some toddler behaviors including biting and hostile behavior (imagine that). The older one is afraid to speak to his dad and has been taught to report every detail back to his mother.

They are now seeking counseling or therapy for the kids. WDIL wants to take the kids alone and SS is insisting upon being there also, which I fully agree is necessary, for the sake of the kids and himself.

This is new to all of us. Does anyone have experience in this area? Have you sent your young children for therapy during divorce? What was it like? What can we expect? What do we need to be alert to? Pros? Cons?

TIA for the help. I truly appreciate it.

Catwoman posted 6/24/2020 14:20 PM

Is there a divorce filed? If not, there needs to be. If SS has appropriate living conditions for children to visit overnight, he should, at minimum, be getting every other weekend, and likely more.

He needs to start documenting this behavior, and he needs to consult with the children's pediatrician on how to best navigate all of this.

My concern is that he has allowed his WW to dictate all terms and conditions without knowing his rights in this situation. He will need a VERY good dad's attorney for this one.

He absolutely needs to be a part of the counseling. He should not let her dictate this. If they cannot agree on a therapist, they will need to agree on a neutral third party choosing one out of 2-3 of their choosing.

Is the AP living with them? HOw recent is the separation?


okaynow posted 6/24/2020 14:37 PM

Catwoman - thank you. I remember you from "back in the day" and appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this matter.

SS filed for divorce over 6 months ago. He found about about the first known AP at the beginning of 2019, and the second known AP a couple months later. They tried couples counseling but it was a bust. WDIL refused to stop seeing the AP. Makes it tough to reconcile, huh? I am 99% sure that AP does not (yet) live with WDIL, her mom and the kids.

WDIL had said that she will file a restraining order against him for abuse and her mother has threatened to do the same. There has been NO ABUSE from SS towards WDIL. Quite the contrary. While there has been no physical abuse on either side, WDIL is mentally and emotionally abusing the kids and SS on a daily basis. It is horrible. I think the reason SS hasn't been more assertive in stopping it is because he believes that WDIL can make false accusations against him and he will lose his career. He has been in law enforcement (he is one of the good guys) since before they met. His work is mostly administrative these days but he's afraid it could come to a screeching halt if she files certain complaints.

In the meantime, the attorney he signed up with last Fall turned out to be less than effective. Good at writing useless letters and billing him, not so good at getting any results. He recently changed attorneys and we are hoping now for better results.

Thank you for the suggestion that SS speak with the pediatrician. Excellent idea! Wish I'd thought of that. :-)

Thanks again.

Catwoman posted 6/24/2020 14:43 PM

The new attorney needs to know about the abuse threats and needs to give your SS guidance about how to handle all of this. I understand the courts are not physically in session, but there can be a motion for temporary orders filed so that parenting time and temporary support can be set. Please remember that temp support often turns into the permanent order, so make sure your SS is aware of this and doesn't give in to an onerous order just to keep the peace.

If SS is an LEO, he may want to speak with HR and/or the union and let them know the situation as well (check with the attorney first). The more people who are aware that this is a possibility, the better it is for SS. If WDIL's home is in the same police jurisdiction, perhaps some sort of advisory can be put linked with the address that this one needs to be 100% by the book if there is any police officer summoned to the home. Better safe than sorry.

SS may want to wear a VAR during all interactions with WDIL and her mother. Check with the attorney.

The visits at WDIL's home need to stop immediately if they are threatening him. That is why temp orders are very important right now. Once he has temp orders, I would recommend that pickup and drop off be at a neutral location, ideally the police station.

It sucks that good people have to jump through all of these hoops just to protect themselves.


okaynow posted 6/24/2020 14:49 PM

Thank you Cat. I will share all of your suggestions with SS.

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