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What if co-parents don’t agree about a teen’s therapy needs?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2024 | Child Custody |

Puberty, adolescence and high school can be challenging times for families. As young adults strive to establish their own identities separate from their parents, sometimes conflict ensues. Young adults may become rebellious or may develop social anxiety and begin withdrawing from their relationships.

There are a host of emotional and social issues that young adults and their families navigate as they grow closer to adulthood. Sometimes, those challenges may prove too difficult for the family to fully handle without support. Therapy, counseling or psychiatric support can all be valuable for young adults struggling with mental health challenges.

Divorces and high-conflict co-parenting arrangements can very easily exacerbate pre-existing mental health challenges in young adults or trigger the onset of new symptoms in previously well-adjusted young adults. Working with a therapist could prove beneficial.

What happens if a co-parent disagrees about the necessity of therapy, the type of therapy or the therapist treating their child?

Parents should try to cooperate

Higher levels of co-parenting conflict tend to exacerbate the stress a young adult experiences during and after a divorce. The more acrimonious things become, the greater the likelihood that the feelings of the parents could affect the mental health of the young adults.

Setting aside disputes or at least agreeing not to argue or talk about disagreements in front of the children can be a good starting point for parents trying to help a young adult struggling with mental health issues. Trying to meet in the middle by compromising on certain elements of a young adult’s treatment can be helpful. It is typically necessary for parents to agree on major parenting decisions.

Parents must know when to act

Some people have very strong negative feelings toward therapy in general or certain types of therapy. Whether one parent had a negative personal experience with an inappropriate therapist or they have a belief system that makes them critical of therapy, they might oppose any treatment for a teen who needs help.

In such a scenario, it may be necessary to take custody matters back to family court for a judge to rule on the matter or to grant one adult final decision-making authority in medical matters so that carrying ongoing treatment for the teenager won’t cause continual battles between the parents.

Sharing parental rights and responsibilities typically means that adults need to find ways to cooperate with one another. When adults can’t agree on how to share parental responsibilities, their children may suffer unnecessary delays in necessary mental health treatment. Recognizing when litigating custody matters may be necessary for the benefit of the children in the family can help parents to better ensure their children receive the support and treatment they require.