Generally speaking, no judge can force you to take marriage counseling before you get your final divorce decree. But a judge might be able to require you to take marriage counseling before your final divorce ruling. This can happen if there has been an obvious cheating or if one of the spouses is clearly having difficulty in the marriage. In those situations, it may become necessary for a judge to step in and require both parties to go through marriage counseling before a final divorce ruling. If your spouse refuses to take the marriage counseling, or if you are not happy with the marriage counseling, you may end up getting a divorce anyway.
This doesn’t mean, however, that a court can force you into marriage counseling. You still need to request the counseling. The court will decide whether or not it is in your best interest to request marriage counseling with an unbiased third-party. If you can’t be properly represented, your counseling should not be free. Many religious agencies offer divorcing couples counseling for a low cost. But if you want an unbiased representation, you may need to hire a lawyer.
If your spouse is refusing to counsel, and you think it may benefit you or your children, you can file a motion with the court to compel the marriage to proceed. Again, you should only do this if there is a really good chance of winning the case. You’ll probably need an attorney, so find one that feels comfortable representing both you and your spouse. Ask friends or people you work with for names of lawyers they might recommend. But if you’re filing on your own, you’ll need to find all your own legal documentation. Have all your paperwork ready so that you can get to court as soon as possible.
A judge will likely give you a date to get together with your spouse and will likely require you both to attend counseling sessions. The counselor will be able to help you determine whether a change in lifestyle is a possibility for ending the marriage. There’s no guarantee that he/she will actually make a difference in your relationship, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If the counselor doesn’t seem impressed with your efforts, you may want to consider another counselor. Even if you do get through counseling successfully, it’s possible that the courts may ultimately decide against you and grant you legal divorce.
Some states allow the divorcing spouses to choose their own marriage counselors, while others require a court order. In some states, once you and your spouse have attended counseling and are no longer seeing each other regularly, you can apply for a marriage license. Marriage license applications vary greatly by state, so you’ll want to research the process thoroughly before you apply. Some states require a court order to grant the marriage license, while others are much less strict.
The only way to know for sure if a court will order marriage counselors is to speak with an attorney. An attorney can easily explain the legal ramifications of making such a request, or he or she can advise you on whether or not this route is a good one. In most cases, the answer will be yes, but the question becomes what happens if your request is denied. A court may deny you the marriage license based on a lack of proof that the marriage has indeed happened. If your request was denied, however, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that you win the case in court.