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What Types of Counseling May Be Part of a Family Law Case?

Mental health counseling is a frequent topic of conversation in family court and in the offices of family law attorneys. That’s certainly no surprise. After all, families involved in the legal system usually experience a great deal of stress, whether the issue is divorce, child custody, domestic violence or another matter. It can all take a heavy toll on a client’s emotional and mental well-being.

We have found that many of those we represent have difficulty understanding the types of counseling and therapy that may be recommended or ordered in their cases. That’s no surprise, either, since there are different types of mental health services one might encounter. Here is a brief overview of them:

  • Marriage counseling — Many people go through marriage counseling, a form of psychotherapy, before separating. In fact, it may be required in some circumstances. In Pennsylvania, the judge may require up to three marriage counseling sessions for divorcing couples, including when it’s a no-fault divorce and one spouse requests counseling, and in certain cases when there are children under age 16 involved. Marriage counseling is provided by highly trained therapists, usually with advanced degrees.
  • Anger management counseling — Especially in child custody disputes, one parent may assert that the other parent has anger problems. In such situations, a mental health professional will make an assessment and may refer that parent to an anger management counselor, who helps the spouse to identify the sources of their anger and resolve conflicts constructively rather than emotionally.
  • Co-parenting counseling — This type of counseling is the one most commonly ordered by Pennsylvania family court judges. It is designed to help parents communicate more effectively despite their issues with each other. Parents can voice concerns to a neutral counselor and get input from professionals with experience dealing with families and children of divorce. Co-parenting counseling can last a few sessions or can continue for months, depending on the family’s needs.
  • Reunification therapy — There are times when, despite child custody and visitation schedules, children and parents lose touch. Sometimes one parent deliberately sabotages the relationship between the child and the other parent. Other times, one parent moves away for work. Reunification therapy is designed to help estranged parents and children resume their relationship. It can be voluntary or court-ordered if the parent’s reunification with the child is considered to be in the child’s best interests.

The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney, P.C., represents clients who may go through counseling as part of a divorce or other family law case. Our compassionate attorneys are connected to experienced mental health professionals throughout Pennsylvania who may be valuable resources for you. To talk to us about your situation, please call our Yardley office at 215.493.3360 or contact us online.

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