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In my divorce practice, I customarily ask a client whether marriage or other counseling has been sought before consulting with me. It is, of course, preferable that every effort be made to save a marriage before beginning the divorce process.

Marriage counseling includes couples counseling, family therapy and faith-based counseling, as well as programs which address marital problems which have developed over time, rather than precipitated by a crisis.

Marriage counseling is not a “quick fix” but often requires changes in attitudes and behavior by husband and wife. Both parties must be willing to change the relationship and candidly engage in a dialogue about issues which are damaging their relationship. When a spouse enters counseling for the sole purpose of changing the attitudes or behaviors of the other spouse, the result is often disappointment. (On the other hand, a spouse may benefit from counseling on his or her own when part of the problem is the way a spouse reacts or responds to the other spouse.)

While it is recommended that the decision to divorce be deferred during the counseling process, you should speak with an attorney about the practical issues of delay, such as the change over time of the value of marital property, the possibility of assets being “hidden” during the process and the fact that marital property continues to accumulate until a divorce action is commenced.

A frequent complaint by divorcing spouses in that the other spouse either dominates or resists conversation about the reasons for the marital discord. As this behavior is unlikely to be resolved immediately, it is important that the counselor who is chosen be adept at dealing with persons who tend to “overpower” the conversation or who strongly resist engaging in the discussion.