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Should divorcing New Yorkers try marriage counseling first?

Often Manhattan couples on the brink of divorce seek out marriage counseling to try to salvage their union before squaring off in divorce court. But is this always a good idea?

Certainly when minor children are involved, all attempts should be made at reconciliation unless there are domestic violence or untreated substance abuse issues involving the parties. But one expert and author cautions that when one party has set his or her mind to divorce, getting marriage counseling is usually not going to change the outcome. This can lead to one spouse feeling betrayed that the hard work he or she is putting into trying to fix the marriage is to no avail.

However, even when marriage counseling doesn't pan out, that doesn't mean that counseling cannot help couples learn to uncouple peaceably. So-called "divorce counseling" can give both parties a safe place to share their feelings about the marriage ending without devolving into blame and guilt. Divorce counseling can help the parties ease through the transition.

When divorcing spouses are able to cooperate and work together, it is preferable to duking it out in court and disclosing intimate details from a marriage in court documents. Divorce counseling can sometimes be a stepping stone to mediation between the parties and their attorneys.

Although ultimately, one or both parties may choose to have their day in court, seeking counseling and trying to mediate matters can be preferable. If you are considering filing for divorce, it may be to your advantage to ask your New York family law attorney to recommend a counselor who can help your family deal with the new normal that is now the reality.

Source: Psychology Today, "Marriage Counseling and the Decision to Divorce" Sam Margulies, accessed Jan. 23, 2015

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