Do You Have To Attend Marriage Counseling Before Your Divorce?

Coronavirus Family Lawyer

When you’re considering a divorce, you might be wondering if marriage counseling can change the outcome. Maybe you’re even worried that the judge will order you into marriage counseling. Here’s what you should know.

How Common Is Court-Ordered Marriage Counseling?

Court-ordered counseling is mandatory. The sessions are much like any marriage counseling, it’s just that you must attend under a court order. Generally, you might be told to attend a certain number of sessions together. The counselor reports back to the court. If you don’t attend, you could be found to be in contempt of court. The judge could put you in jail, but it’s more likely that you’d have to pay a fine.

State laws determine whether court-ordered counseling is required before a divorce. In Kentucky, for example, if the judge believes there is a possibility of reconciliation, he/she can order counseling. However, most states don’t require counseling before a divorce. It used to be that if one spouse asked for it, the court would order it. That doesn’t hold true much anymore.

Counseling only works when the people in it want to be there. Although the court can order you to attend counseling, that doesn’t mean you will put any effort into counseling. Court-ordered counseling can just waste time and money. Plus, domestic violence victims are usually exempt from it. Court-ordered marriage counseling is rare.

The Judge Can Order Other Types of Classes or Counseling

Although court-ordered marriage counseling is rare, more courts are using other types of classes and therapy to help couples through a divorce, especially those with children. Some courts order parenting classes to help parents learn to co-parent after separation and to be more in tune with what their children are going through. Divorce counseling can help parties resolve conflicts during the divorce, thus moving toward a more amicable divorce.

Mediation is another process that can reduce the conflict through a divorce. Judges can order it, but some couples use it on their own. The mediator helps the couple work out the issues of the divorce, from dividing assets to child custody. Working with a mediator can help reduce stress and avoid a costly and bitter trial. However, mediation isn’t for everyone.

State laws vary about court-ordered counseling. Your situation may not warrant counseling, so it’s a good idea to discuss your concerns with a family law attorney, like a Coronavirus family lawyer in Arlington, Virginia, who can help you navigate the divorce process in your state.

Thank you to the experts at May Law, LLP for their input into divorce and the Coronavirus.