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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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Old 08-02-2014, 11:05 PM
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Default Treatment and Parenting Time

My child has autism. He was diagnosed several years ago. Luckily he is high functioning and able to be in the regular school program with some minor support. He is seven years old now.

I have joint custody and should have access to his medical and psychological professionals (by court order). My ex is also obligated to share any details of his assessment and treatments with me.

There are often very long waiting lists for publicly funded treatment programs. Last year he was able to attend an ABA social skills group for a few months. The groups meet every week for 2-3 hours. Here is where the trouble starts...

I have every second weekend with him, from Friday evening until Sunday evening. Last year my ex convinced me that I was not allowed to participate in the therapy and that I could pick him up at her place Saturday afternoon.

For me this wasn't really acceptable because I was losing half of my already limited time with him. We compromised and she allowed me to pick him directly from therapy Saturday morning.

For my son the change to his regular schedule for those few months was devastating. He is autistic and routine is everything. It upset him so much that we had to change my access time permanently and shorten it by several hours so he could adapt.

Last week I got notification from my ex that she was once again terminating my access on weekends for therapy and that I could pick him Saturday afternoons. She said it is scheduled at a later time this year so I will lose most of my weekend with him.

I told her that I do not consent to changing the schedule. I will pick him up as usual on Fridays and I will bring him to therapy on my weekends. If I cannot participate that's OK, she can meet us there and attend with him, and I will go wait at Tim Hortons until therapy is done.

She went apeshit. She is very controlling and has zero respect for me and my relationship with our child. Today she told me she has cancelled his therapy rather than allow me to bring him to it on my weekends.

She also told me she will be signing him up for private therapy and perhaps private school and sending me the bill so he can have therapy that does not fall on my parenting time. Which is simply insane since I consented to his therapy on my parenting time and offered to bring him and/or attend it with him and/or her.

She has kept hidden and refuses to answer any questions about the therapy so I do not really know who to contact. I would like to speak to his professionals to try and make sure he still gets to go. The waiting list is over a year long.

I never thought she would hurt an autistic child just to get back at me, in defiance of all court orders and custody to boot.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I cannot really afford to do so, but would a motion to change help? I don't think so, we already have perfectly good orders, she just won't follow them... Motion for disclosure of his therapy? Motion for contempt for doing this? Should I be calling CAS since she is denying therapy to a special needs child without cause?
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:45 PM
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I'd make an appointment to go talk about this with your son's family doctor. Perhaps the doctor can help you track down your son's therapist. Usually a referral is involved (from family doctor). Doctor should have records.
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Old 08-05-2014, 12:10 AM
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Contempt is if somebody isn't following an existing order that is clearly spelled out

In your case though I think it would fail because it isn't SUPER direct contravention.

I would apply for a change in custody access time based on change in circumstances. Your visits are your RIGHT and they should not be cut short due to therapy if possible. You can refer to the obstruction of access but I wouldn't bother with contempt because the bar is quite high (beyond a reasonable doubt).
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Old 08-05-2014, 03:27 PM
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I'm sorry you're in this situation.

I don't think CAS would work out for you, as your son is not in danger. It doesn't sound like you need a motion to change, and a motion for contempt would be expensive and lengthy. Could you start by having your lawyer send her a letter reminding her that joint custody requires your agreement to any changes in his ongoing treatment, and stating that you will continue to bring him for his therapy at the usual time? If there's no response, then you may be headed for court.

It sounds like your primary concern is that your son be able to continue in his therapy. If you pick him up directly from therapy, presumably you know who and where the therapist is (or can make an educated guess from names on offices or building directories). I would suggest making an appointment with the therapist, bringing the separation agreement which states joint custody, and expressing your concerns about terminating or changing your son's therapy. The therapist may have some pull with your irrational ex, especially if the therapy has been clearly beneficial to your son.

If you can't find the therapist, as Arabian said, there has to be a referral somewhere - if not from your family doctor, then possibly from the school. You could make an appointment with the principal (though it may be tough to get hold of them in August!), bring a copy of your agreement which states joint custody, and find out if the school made the referral.

It's also possible that your ex's threats to find a private therapist and private school are just empty threats, especially if she's given to going ballistic.
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:23 PM
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You're correct. "Children with autism rely heavily on "Routine", "Structure" and "Predictability". When any of these 3 become compromised it provokes significant anxiety. Your ex should be very aware of this as parents of ASD children usually get a boat load of information.

I was an applied behavioral analyst (ABA) for many years and I will tell you that I always asked the parents the same thing. Please try not to deviate from any routines before and after the session for optimal learning. ABA is proven through literature to be the leading resource for teaching ASD individuals academic, social and life skills.

It seems she's putting her needs at the forefront. Switching from one ABA therapist to another, from public to "private", narrating when you can and can not be there is UNACCEPTABLE. The child needs established rapport with ONE therapist and should not be bounced around. If I were you I'd get an expert witness in autism who can vouch that this is NOT in the best interests of the child. When there's a special needs child involved there are special considerations as per what's best for them. What your ex is doing now does not fit that category.

Last edited by LovingFather32; 08-06-2014 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:26 AM
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Thanks guys.

I think the problem is that my ex does not agree with what the normal routine should be before/after the ABA sessions. In her mind, she has always brought him, so she should continue to do so and cancel my time with him is justified. In my mind, those are my weekends anyways, and the routine is that he should be with me and the smallest disruption possible is for us to duck and bring him there and back.
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