You Can’t Send a Divorcing Spouse to Counseling
Recently I have dealt with some highly emotional issues with clients, usually involving children. So the question has been posed: Can I force my spouse, or former spouse, to undergo counseling so that our divorce goes more smoothly? It is admirable and in the best interests of everyone involved, including children, when the shared goal is to minimize conflict. In most cases, however, we cannot force another party to undergo counseling so divorce, or post-judgment matters, go more smoothly. It is also unlikely that a judge would send a divorcing spouse to counseling for purposes of the divorce proceeding alone. On the other hand, if there are minor children involved and the parties are having trouble co-parenting, then it is more likely that a judge will consider one party’s request for counseling and/or the appointment of a co-parenting coordinator to provide assistance and guidance with matters involving children. That effort goes toward helping both mom and dad learn how to successfully co-parent. If your goal is to have a smooth divorce, then consider process options which can help before you even get to court and put difficult, emotionally-charged issues before a judge to decide. An underlying principle of the Collaborative Divorce process is to provide a forum in which to deal with issues that might otherwise create bumps in the divorce road and lead to expensive litigation fees and court involvement. Collaborative Divorce is a team approach involving the parties, their attorneys, divorce coaches (mental health professionals), child specialists (also mental health professionals) and financial specialists, as needed. All professionals in this process undergo specific, special training for collaborative divorce. Of course, both spouses must agree before this can happen. If you’re on board but your soon-to-be ex is not, you can still hire a collaboratively-trained divorce coach for your own guidance as you go through this emotional time.