In the case of Tartaglino v. Tartaglino, the Virginia Court of Appeals, in an unpublished opinion, ruled that the trial court did not err in denying mother’s request to terminate her children’s therapy. Father and mother divorced on December 22, 2011. They have two children. During the parties’ separation, father requested that the children receive therapy because of problems between him and the oldest child. The final decree of divorce awarded the parties joint legal custody of the children, with mother having primary physical custody. Paragraph 11 of the final decree stated: The children shall continue in therapy with Dr. Van Syckle until Mother and Father agree that therapy is no longer reasonable or necessary, Mother and Father agree to select a new therapist for either child, or Dr. Van Syckle elects to discontinue therapy with either child. The parties shall pay for Dr. Van Syckle’s services, or the services of another therapist, per income share as used to calculate child support. Dr. Van Syckle provided therapy for the children. On July 3, 2012, mother asked Dr. Van Syckle to conclude the children’s therapy. Dr. Van Syckle declined and informed mother that therapy would continue on an as-needed basis. On July 19, 2012, Dr. Van Syckle met with father and the children. He informed them that there was no need to return, except on an as-needed basis. Dr. Van Syckle also met with mother and father and informed them that therapy would be provided on an as-needed basis. On October 4, 2012, mother filed a motion to modify the final decree and asked the trial court to enter an order terminating the requirement that the children remain in therapy with Dr. Van Syckle because the therapy was no longer reasonable or necessary. On February 22, 2013, the parties appeared before the trial court on mother’s motion to terminate the children’s therapy. Dr. Van Syckle testified that the children’s relationship with their father had improved and that therapy had been “very successful.” Dr. Van Syckle confirmed that he had not terminated the children’s therapy, although he had not seen them for several months. He explained that he thought it was in the best interests of the oldest child for him to remain involved on an as-needed basis. Mother testified about the children and their “warm and loving relationship” with their father. After hearing the testimony and argument, the trial court noted that Dr. Van Syckle thought the therapy should continue and father did not agree to terminate therapy.
Mother argues that the trial court erred when it denied her motion to modify the therapy provisions in the final decree of divorce. She contends that the therapist had not seen the children for months and therapy was no longer necessary. The trial court heard evidence about the children’s progress in therapy. Mother testified that she thought therapy should terminate, whereas Dr. Van Syckle testified that the children should not discontinue therapy. Dr. Van Syckle specifically stated that it was in the oldest child’s best interests to continue therapy on an as-needed basis. The final decree stated that therapy with Dr. Van Syckle would continue for the children until mother and father agreed that it should be terminated, mother and father obtained a new therapist, or Dr. Van Syckle terminated therapy with either child. The trial court noted that the parents did not agree on whether the therapy should be terminated and “Dr. Van Syckle thinks that for the future, the short-term future or whatever, that this therapy needs to continue.” Accordingly, the trial court explained that “the order speaks for itself” and denied mother’s motion.
Here, the trial court held that the language in the final decree prevented termination of the children’s therapy unless the parties agree or Dr. Van Syckle agrees. None of the conditions for termination had been met. The trial court did not err in denying her motion.
-Rob Hagy, Charlottesville Divorce and Custody and Visitation Lawyer. For help with issues like this or with other custody and visitation issues, please contact me at (434)293-4562 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.