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Considering Divorce? Could Discernment Counseling Work for You?

Posted on in Divorce

discernment counseling, Austin family law attorney, marriage counseling, traditional marriage counseling, couples counseling, marital problemsMany couples on the brink of divorce will try marriage counseling as a last ditch effort to save the marriage. Quite often, one spouse wants to save the marriage (referred to as "leaning in") while the other spouse really wants out of the marriage (referred to as "leaning out"). The leaning out partner goes along with the marriage counseling but really does not try to work through their issues. Instead, the spouse points out that marriage counseling is not working and proceeds to file for a divorce.

However, a different type of marriage counseling has been developed by professors at the University of Minnesota and is being used in their Couples on the Brink Project. It is called "discernment counseling" and the goal is to help couples decide whether or not they should proceed with the divorce, try to save the marriage, or just separate for a while and then come back to decide. This is short-term counseling and not meant to replace traditional marriage counseling.

One of the benefits of discernment counseling is that it brings the topic of divorce to the forefront of discussion. Frequently in troubled marriages, one or both of the spouses have been seriously considering divorce, yet have not articulated that to their partner.

Discernment counseling involves not only couples counseling but also individual counseling. In each session, the counselor meets with both of the spouses separately and then the three meet together. One of the goals of the counseling is to help each party see their roles in the problems of the marriage and what they might be able to do to solve those problems.

There are no more than five sessions of counseling. Once the couple has made their decision of what direction the marriage will go in, the counselor also helps them find a professional to help proceed with that plan – either appropriate marriage counseling or a legal professional to end the marriage.

Discernment counseling is not appropriate if there is domestic abuse or the threat of domestic abuse involved. It is also not appropriate if one spouse has already made the decision to divorce and is only trying to convince the other spouse to go along with that decision.

If you are considering a divorce, or have already decided that you want out of your marriage, contact an experienced Austin family law attorney to help navigate through what can be a very messy and complicated legal process.

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