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Each county is responsible for keeping a list of qualified counselors who are available to assist natural parents contemplating voluntary relinquishment or facing involuntary termination of their parental rights. Prior to an adoption taking place, the rights of the natural parent(s) must be terminated. This is a permanent act and accordingly, the courts ensure that the natural parents understand and have a chance to discuss with a qualified professional. A portion of the filing fees paid to the court for adoption/termination proceedings go towards supporting that county’s counseling fund which subsidizes the costs for counseling where the natural parent(s) desire to participate but are unable to afford it.

The court should inquire as to whether the natural parent(s) had an opportunity to utilize counseling services if they appear at the termination hearing. If the natural(s) have not received any counseling, the court can postpone a decision on termination to allow the natural parent(s) an opportunity to seek counseling. If the natural parents are not present, the court at least expects proof of valid notice of the proceedings on the parents. The required notice does make it clear that they have a right to appear at the hearing and if they fail to do so their rights can be terminated by the court. The notice also apprises natural parents of their right to seek an attorney and strongly advises that they do so.

Prior to an adoption taken place, the rights of the natural parent(s) must be terminated. This may occur via consent, voluntary relinquishment or involuntary termination. Regardless of the method of termination, each county is responsible for keeping a list of qualified counselors who are available to assist natural parents contemplating voluntary relinquishment or facing termination of parental rights. There is a filing fee due for each adoption petition that is filed. The amount of the filing fee varies by county. A portion of the filing fee goes to support the county counseling fund which subsidizes the costs for counseling where the natural parent(s) desire to participate but are unable to afford it.

If the natural parent(s) appear at the termination hearing the court must ask the natural parent(s) if counseling services were utilized prior to any decree terminating their rights. If the natural(s) have not received any counseling, the court may briefly postpone a decision on the termination to allow the natural parent(s) an opportunity to seek counseling. The Center for Adoption Support and Education is a national leader in counseling services including counseling for natural parents whose children have been adopted or placed in foster care. For additional information visit https://adoptionsupport.org/.

Counseling may be a useful resource for children dealing with changes in family status due to divorce or separation. It can serve as a safe place for children to discuss and process their feelings. It is not uncommon for children to be reluctant to discuss their feelings with their parents. Both parents will need to agree to counseling unless one parent has sole legal custody. A parent can petition the court for an Order regarding counseling if they believe it is necessary and they are unable to get the other parent’s consent.

Family counseling may serve to repair a relationship between a parent and child that has been damaged. It may also prove useful where a parent is looking to rebuild a relationship after a period of missed time with the child. Also known as reunification counseling, its goal is to reintroduce and/or reinforce the relationship between a parent and their child. Reunification counseling can be viewed as a more collaborative approach to re-establishing a relationship as opposed to just having the court force certain periods of visitation when the child may not be willing or emotionally ready. This is especially true when dealing with teenagers. It is the role of the reunification therapist to facilitate the process with the end goal of repairing the relationship going forward. If you are facing a high conflict divorce or separation or have been inactive in your child’s life for a certain period of time and feel you may need help rebuilding the relationship, consider counseling as an option.

Oftentimes when people are getting divorced, there are many emotional issues involved. In instances where one spouse did not want the divorce, or even when they did but they endured physical abuse, adultery, mental abuse, or just the trauma of change that a separation brings, counseling with a qualified therapist or psychologist can be invaluable. While the process of getting divorced brings with it all these emotions, the application of the law of divorce does not consider all these emotions in the actual outcome of the division of the assets or alimony. This can be extremely frustrating for someone who feels that they need to be compensated for all they endured. It is important to be able to separate the emotion of the divorce from the actual application of the outcome of the divorce itself and this is where a therapist can really help someone. Having someone to help through the emotional process is important to be able to be rational when it is time to come to a discussion of the settlement of the assets and alimony.

Prior to an adoption taking place, the rights of the natural parent(s) must be terminated. This may occur via consent, voluntary relinquishment or involuntary termination. Pursuant to 23 Pa C.S. 2505, each county is responsible for keeping a list of qualified counselors who are available to assist natural parents contemplating voluntary relinquishment or facing termination of parental rights. The court must inquire of the natural parent(s) if counseling services were utilized prior to any decree terminating their rights. If the natural(s) have not received any counseling, the court may briefly postpone a decision on the termination to allow the natural parent(s) an opportunity to seek counseling.

When an adoption is filed, a portion of the filing fee goes to support the county counseling fund which exists to pay for counseling where the natural parent(s) desire to participate but are unable to afford it. Presently, the counseling fee is $75 and is filed with the Report of Intent to Adopt. The Bucks County Orphans’ Court Division is hosting two informational sessions regarding the counseling program available. The first is on July 29, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. at the Lowers Bucks Chamber of Commerce in Fairless Hills, PA. The second event is being held on July 31, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. at the Central Bucks ambulance & Rescue Unit in Doylestown, PA. For additional information or to R.S.V.P., please contact (215) 348-6260.

Reunification counseling is a process meant to rebuild a relationship. Often times, reunification counseling will be used in the context of a custody dispute to reintroduce and/or reinforce the relationship between a parent and their child. There are several reasons why reunification counseling may become necessary. It could be a situation where one parent was not involved in the child’s life for a long period of time and so some type of counseling becomes helpful in assisting both parties ease back into a normal relationship. Alternatively, a course of reunification counseling can be used after a sudden change in relationship has caused damage or anger. For example, a child may not understand why his or her parents have separated and may show anger or resentment towards the parent who moved out of the home. Or perhaps, it is not even the child initiating the feelings of resentment or anger, but the other parent who then projects those same feelings onto the child.

Reunification counseling can be viewed as a more collaborative approach to re-establishing a relationship as opposed to just having the court force certain periods of visitation when the child may not be willing or emotionally ready. This is especially a concern when dealing with teenagers. A custody order forcing visitation with the other parent may serve a temporary goal but ultimately result in lifelong resentment once the child is over 18 and free to make his or her own choices. It may be more beneficial to be patient on the front end in exchange for a healthy relationship that has the potential to last past their “childhood” years. It is the role of the reunification therapist to facilitate the process with the end goal of repairing the relationship going forward. If you are facing a high conflict divorce or separation or have been inactive in your child’s life for a certain period of time and feel you may need help rebuilding the relationship, consider reunification therapy as an option to get the relationship back on the right foot again.

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