Divorce therapy
Divorce therapy

Are you looking for divorce therapy?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Therapy is something often recommended in divorce, and certainly custody matters. Therapy can take place in many forms and settings, but the focus should be on mental and emotional support. Whether you go to divorce therapy, family therapy, co-parenting therapy or individual therapy (for your and/or your children) it helps to have professional support along the way. (Divorce coaches are another option many are using to help get through the emotional and mental strife that accompanies divorce.)

Child Custody & Abandonment

Types of Therapy in Divorce

There are stages of grief in divorce that include anger, sadness, guilt, fear, depression and shock/disbelief.  (Read more about divorce grief here.)

Having an experienced professional can help you stay focused on the important issues while managing your emotions.  Furthermore, you’re more likely to accomplish your goals if you have someone to help you to see things for what they really are. A lot of truths about yourself are likely to be discovered in therapy.

Individual therapy is usually the route divorcing parties opt for. Individual therapy allows you address pre-existing mental health issues adequately.  Additionally, it allows you to concentrate on your own feelings without feeling obligated to consider your spouse’s needs. To many this is much more beneficial than trying to candidly  discuss feelings while the source of those feelings is present.

Couples therapy is another option in divorce. This route is more laser focused than individual therapy. However, couples divorce therapy can lead to individual therapy if the parties choose. Couples therapy entails both parties talking about and working through their concerns with respect to their divorce. Child custody, visitation, property distribution, as well as communication, disagreements, etc. are all valid topics to discuss here.

Both parties have the opportunity to express their feelings openly to help them understand what happened, to prepare them for post divorce and to help the children get through it successfully.

Family therapy provides a unique opportunity for intervention for the entire family.  Family therapy can take place during or after divorce/custody. It allows the children to express their own feelings and concerns about the break up of the family. Children usually have their own range of emotions to deal with, including guilt, fear, etc. and can benefit from dealing with them in a family therapy setting.

NOTE: This article is limited to therapy in divorce actions, not specifically for custody cases. The topic of therapy and custody will be explored in the upcoming weeks.

The Implications of Therapy in Divorce Court

Although therapy has its advantages, the courts’ perspective on therapy varies greatly. Therapy can a help or hindrance as far as the court is concerned.

Procedurally, having the parties actively involved in mental health services can place a burden on the court’s agenda. Most courts give their cases a time allotment for it to remain on its active calendar. Depending on the depth of Therapy services the parties receive, the case can drag on longer. Also, depending on what the parties are treated for, their ability to comprehend everything that is going on can be jeopardized.

Substantively, the parties receiving therapeutic services  may affect the court’s decision with respect to fault (or grounds), alimony (employability) and certainly custody. (Therapy and custody will be discussed in the upcoming weeks.) With respect to fault, if you are not in a no-fault state (most are no-fault) and use emotional distress or mental cruelty as the basis for Divorce participating in therapy can substantiate that. As for alimony, most states have factors that include the emotional &/or physical health to determine the amount and duration. Same with property distribution (especially in equitable distribution states) a factor that many courts take into consideration is the parties’ wellbeing.

Either way, these things should not deter you from getting help. If you are having trouble working through your emotions, or a hard time understanding what’s going on or can’t seem to focus on your objectives then you should certainly work with a mental health professional.

If you are interested in learning more about how I can help you prepare or defend your divorce or custody case for success in Family Court, feel free to contact me to schedule a FREE Consultation. 

Dating during divorce

Dating during divorce may not render you the best outcome in your situation. You can try to rationalize so many ways but the reality is you can’t unless it’s an Uncontested divorce and it’s near the end. I understand that in cases where the divorce has been dragging on for years, where your spouse cheated several times, where you get lonely, etc. But if you’re expecting a property distribution, spousal support or alimony and most importantly, child custody then hold off on having coffee with the “hot guy” may be wise.

When Legal Separation is the Better Route

Dating During Divorce Grounds

As I’ve discussed before, (for the discussion on no fault laws read here www.) most states have some form of “no fault” as divorce grounds. What that means is that neither spouse has to allege anything specific as their reason for divorce. However, there are instances where either spouse may want to use adultery as the basis for divorce. Adultery is when a married person has sexual intercourse with another person other than their spouse. The implications of adultery in a divorce can be catastrophic.

Spousal support, child custody and property distribution determinations are all impacted by alleging and proving adultery. Dating during divorce, no matter what stage the divorce is at, is in fact adultery. Doesn’t matter if the other spouse knows of the adulterous affair or even if both the parties are having an affair, it’s still adultery.

If the petitioning spouse chooses to use adultery as grounds, whether they can substantiate their claim or not, it can give that spouse the upper hand with respect to settlement negotiations.

Dating and Child Custody/Visitation

While the divorce is pending there is usually some form of temporary order for custody and visitation. And although the terms in the order can vary from case to case, some things are pretty customary. Customary provisions are usually based on what your particular jurisdiction’s considers the “norm”.

Many jurisdictions, upon either party’s request, can include what is called a “morality clause,”. This clause covers parents romantic or social life activities. The clauses usually imposes specific limitations with the intention to maintain some sense of decency while coparenting. Some of these clauses merely dictate at which point parents can introduce the kids to romantic partners. While others go as far as prohiting extended periods of time in partners’ presence or overnight visits.  Again, in some jurisdictions these clauses can be pretty routine while in others they are frowned upon. Either way, limits can be put on parents’ ability to see other people, even while the divorce is pending.

Dating and Alimony

Alimony or spousal support guidelines varies from state to state. The premise behind it though is pretty consistent amongst the states. The purpose is “to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse. Part of the justification is that an ex-spouse may have chosen to forego a career to support the family, and needs time to develop job skills to support themselves. Another purpose may be to help a spouse continue the standard of living they had during marriage despite changes to income, income tax, bonuses, taxable income, tax returns and etc.” (Source. Findlaw.com)

There is discretion with respect to which factors are given consideration. Weighing the discretionary factors determines who gets alimony, for how long and how much. However, most alimony awards are conditioned upon the awardee maintaining “unmarried” or “non-cohabitation” status. Although judges won’t sign off on an Agreement that terminates spousal support merely because the awardee is dating, if the dating lead to cohabitation they mpst certainly will.

Dating and Property Distribution

As stated earlier, if adultery is alleged and proven the courts can “punish” the adultering spouse by awarding a larger portion of marital assets.  Particularly in equitable distribution states, as opposed to community property states, the courts will compensate the offended spouse with a more favorable property award.

In sum, dating during divorce should be done with much careful thought. I know that matters of the heart can take on a life of it’s own. However, I suggest weighing the costs of having am indulgent heart.