Is Marriage Counseling Required Before You Can Get a Divorce?

The process of getting a divorce can seem complicated and most divorcing couples have a lot of questions. A divorce lawyer can help answer questions and clear up any misconceptions about the process of getting a divorce. One myth about family court is that you are required to go through marriage counseling before you can get a divorce. Although there are instances in which the court may require counseling, it is rare. Here are some things to consider.

What Is Court-Ordered Counseling?

Court-ordered marriage counseling is just like it sounds. The judge can require you and your spouse to attend marriage counseling before granting your divorce. The judge would likely specify the number of sessions or a specific time frame. You and your spouse are responsible for paying for the counseling. Your counselor will report back to the court that you met the conditions.

State Laws on Court-Ordered Counseling Vary

Most states have no-fault divorces, which means both spouses don’t need to consent to the divorce. In these cases, counseling may not help the marriage. Many states do not have laws that require the judge to order marriage counseling. In some cases, one spouse may request marriage counseling. Unless state law requires marriage counseling, the judge doesn’t have to order it. Domestic violence victims are also exempt from attending marriage counseling under most state laws.

The Court Can Order Other Types of Counseling During Divorce

Marriage counseling rarely works unless both parties make a real effort. It can often be a waste of time and money to make couples attend marriage counseling under a judicial order. Some states do have laws that require parents to attend classes or counseling for other purposes.

Family courts in 17 states require a parenting education class in divorces that include minor children. This class supports cooperative parenting, helping both parents learn techniques that can help their children through the divorce. Even if your divorce is uncontested, you must still follow the requirements. In many places, parents do not have to attend the parenting class together, which can make this requirement a little easier to process.

Some states require family counseling to learn to manage the inevitable conflicts that arise out of the divorce. Divorce counseling is another type of counseling that the court may order. Instead of trying to save the marriage, this type of counseling helps couples through the divorce so that it proceeds more smoothly.

Concerned About Your Divorce?

If you have questions about court-ordered counseling and how the laws in your state operate, make an appointment with a divorce attorney who can help you navigate the process.