When does a child have the ability to decide whether he has to meet his father. Is his counselor allowed at the therapy.

Asked 3 months ago - Livermore, CA

I recently filed for child support. My son is 11 years old. and the father has not been around since he was born. Right after I filed, he countered with a custody/visitation case. They are in reunification therapy and my son does not want to attend. He wants nothing to do with his dad. He tells me all the time that his father blames me for not seeing him. My son does not want to know his dad. He says the he feels pressure by the counselor and his dad to move forward in a relationship. This is taking a big toll on my son and he is failing out of school and depressed and is going to start counseling soon due to this. Can he have his counselor present during therapy sessions. What age does my son have a say in whether he want to get to know him.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. John Noah Kitta

    Contributor Level 19

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Per law the Judge has to take into consideration the druthers or wishes of the child. The child's opinion is not controlling, but the court must take into consideration. Your situation sounds so stressed, if I were you, I would ask the court to appoint a lawyer for your son.

    I hope this is helpful.

    John N. Kitta
    Fremont

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  2. James Robert Fox

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

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    Answered . There is a lot going on here. But, to answer your final question - the court does take the childs desires into consideration - how much weight it gives that consideration is another story.

    The Court will not allow the child to "make the decision" because the Court will not allow the tail to wag the dog. Now, if Dad has not been around, the Court will be cautious as to the relationship between them. Reunification is the right start. The counselor may decide the relationship is not reparable, or that it is going to be more like an Uncle thing. If your ex is truly blaming you for him not seeing your son, that WILL NOT sit well with the therapist.

    My advice to you is to keep supporting the therapy and let the therapist represent to the court what should be done. Your son knows who his mother is, he knows where he is safe, he knows you will protect him, he knows to trust. More importantly he appears he knows who not to trust.

    Your ex has a LONG way to go in repairing this relationship. He has a lot of work to do. If he does it your son is better off with an involved Father. If he doesn't follow through, when your son turns 14-15, his voice will be stronger, his word more fierce, and your ex will have lost out on the most valuable thing in his life.

    I know you want to release your talons and claw. Your boy is strong enough to withstanding his fathers foolishness, or hold him accountable for it. He already is.

    Good Luck to you!

    Attorney James R. Fox If you found this answer helpful, let me know by clicking the "Mark as Helpful" button at... more
  3. Richard Eric Anthony Dwyer

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    2

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    Answered . The child's wishes are only one factor. The Court will also consider the input of the therapists and Family Court Services.

  4. Edna Carroll Straus

    Contributor Level 19

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . this situation is an emotional minefield, and there is no magic bullet which will take away the emotional turmoil. If you were not so advised before asking for child support, you oughta have been advised that this would be the result. I don't think you can prevent the reunification therapy. You may have to provide products therapy to help your son with these difficult emotions and this difficult situation.

    All of Ms. Straus’ responses to questions posted on Avvo are intended as helpful information based upon the facts... more
  5. Laurie Peters

    Contributor Level 12

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . He would have to be 18 to make that decision. However, my guess is that your son's apprehension with having a relationship with his father may have more to do with not waiting to make you feel betrayed. I'm not a therapist, but I have seen children do much better when they are allowed to have a relationship with both parents, and without feeling like he or she is betraying one when seeing the other. I think your son would benefit from some encouragement from you.

    The information provided is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice and does not... more
  6. Valarie A McNeice

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . There is often apprehension and a difficult adjustment period. The only way to see if reunification will work is to have the child and parent go through the counseling process. Is there ever an age when a child should be allowed to decide that a mother is unnecessary? Your son needs your support to follow the court order. He may want a father someday.

    This answer is intended to only provide general information and does not establish an attorney- client... more

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