Should You Seek Therapy During your Divorce?

Three people chatting.

It is increasingly common for married couples to seek counseling when seeking to resolve issues in their marriage. And therapy can be just as beneficial if you’re going through a divorce or legal separation. It may not change the outcome, but it can certainly help make the process smoother and less painful, regardless of whether you wanted the divorce. Some reasons couples seek therapy during their divorce include:

  1. To reduce emotional stress;
  2. To better understand what went wrong in the marriage;
  3. To cope with change in the transition to a new lifestyle;
  4. To help any children adjust to the changes; and
  5. In rare cases, to achieve a possible reconciliation.

Therapy Can Help Both Parties Cope with the Stress of a Divorce

Studies have shown that divorce – particularly without the proper support – can be highly stressful for couples. That anxiety can lead to depression, health problems and, according to one study, a higher mortality rate globally.

Even if you don’t consider yourself depressed or anxious about your decision, you may be surprised at some of the emotions that can arise during the proceedings. People going through a divorce often need help managing their sadness, anger and fear. Even in amicable divorces, people may feel they have lost friends or struggle with how to approach life as a single person. Therapy can be a way of assisting these individuals by helping them know what to expect in their transition and build new social networks that are crucial to emotional well-being.

What Is Divorce Counseling?

Couples may find themselves stumbling when it comes to ironing out the finer details of their divorce agreement. Divorce counseling refers to short-term counseling in which the two parties meet – either before or after the divorce is finalized – to work through concerns related to their agreement. Typically, their divorce counselor will ask questions to find out more about your specific concerns. For example, you might be struggling with a difference of opinion over parental rights or how shared property will be divvied up. Counseling is a chance to break through any communication barriers and, ideally, make for a quicker and smoother divorce process.

You May Ask a Judge to Order Couples Counseling in Illinois

Do you believe there is still a chance of you and your ex reconciling? The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) gives the court the authority to order you, your spouse, and even your children to participate in counseling. You or your spouse can make the request, but a judge may also suggest counseling to avoid an unnecessary divorce. However, talk to your family law attorney before making the request. The goal of court-ordered counseling may be:

  • To help the parties communicate with one another
  • To reach an agreement sooner
  • To help you and your ex reconcile

In such cases, the court can appoint a specialist to help resolve the issue during what’s known as a conciliation conference, which can have benefits for both parties. What is said usually won’t be used as evidence in the divorce. Even if the divorce proceeds, the two parties can use the counseling sessions to express concerns about the proceedings or opinions about issues to achieve a more just and satisfying outcome.

An Order of Protection Can Mandate Counseling

Another instance in which counseling may be issued by an Illinois court would be to protect someone from domestic violence from another member of the family or household. Though rare, orders of protection are legally enforceable and typically bring harsher penalties than restraining orders. If you or your spouse has threatened or abused a family member, a judge can force the person to enter counseling or treatment.

Speak to a Family Attorney about Divorce Counseling

Your family law attorney should be able to answer your questions if you are concerned about your ex’s behavior or need advice on helping your child adjust. They can also let you know if divorce counseling might have any potential impact on the outcome of your divorce agreement.

Signs that you may need divorce counseling include:

  • Difficulty agreeing on issues like financial support or childcare;
  • Frequent arguments;
  • Debilitating communication differences;
  • Concern over how other people are being affected by your divorce; and
  • Questions about how to handle divorce-related conversations.

If you have questions about seeking therapy during a divorce, contact the Law Office of David A. King, P.C. Our attorneys have your health and mental well-being, as well as your children’s, as our number one priority. We will advocate for your legal rights and help you determine the best path forward before, during and after your divorce.

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