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What to Expect During Court-Ordered Divorce Counseling

by | Mar 10, 2020 | divorce, divorce lawyer long island ny, News and Events

If you’re pursuing a divorce on Long Island, you may be ordered by a Nassau or Suffolk County court to attend divorce counseling. Here’s what you should expect from mandatory divorce counseling and how you can get help with separation, child custody, support, and other critical family legal matters.

What Is Divorce Counseling?

When you hear the term “divorce counseling,” you may think of marriage counseling with the goal of avoiding divorce. However, this isn’t an entirely accurate description. Divorce counseling is a specific type of therapy that helps couples process complex emotions about the dissolution of their marriage and related issues.

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It’s not uncommon for contentious and complex divorces to last one to two years, or even longer. During this time, a couple can attend divorce counseling to manage feelings of anger, resentment, hurt, and betrayal that may be contributing to a contentious divorce. Ideally, this better equips the couple to resolve the matters complicating the split.

Why Is Some Divorce Counseling Mandatory?

Although not required under New York state law, some judges do choose to order a couple to undergo divorce counseling prior to signing the final divorce decree. If a judge believes that divorce counseling will aid the process of dissolving the marriage or create a more amicable environment in which divorce mediation can take place, they may issue an order for the couple to complete a certain number of counseling sessions before the divorce will be granted.

A judge can order marriage counseling in the same way; if they sense the potential for reconciliation and believe it to be beneficial for the couple, the judge can mandate counseling for a specified period of time prior to finalizing the divorce.

What Can I Expect When I Attend Mandatory Counseling?

Court-ordered divorce counseling is similar in nature to any other type of counseling in a therapeutic setting. You’ll see a qualified counselor or therapist for the ordered amount of time, both with and without your ex-spouse. During counseling, you may be asked to:

  • Discuss your feelings about various aspects of the divorce. Your counselor will ask basic questions about your marriage, what may have happened to cause the split, and how you feel about it. Be prepared to dig deeper into your emotions about dissolving your marriage and communicating them to your therapist and ex-spouse.
  • Complete therapeutic exercises in the office and at home. You may be required to complete various therapeutic activities in and out of the office beyond just holding an open dialogue. This could include journaling, worksheets, affirmations, habit-building exercises, and other activities designed to help you process emotions outside the box.
  • Listen to what your ex-spouse has to say regarding their feelings about the divorce. The counselor will give equal time to your soon to be ex-spouse to discuss their feelings about the divorce and related matters like child custody or alimony. Be prepared to listen openly and honestly during this time, as your ex-spouse should also be doing when the floor is yours.
  • Develop realistic goals for counseling that both you and your ex-spouse can meet. The ultimate goal of divorce counseling is to finalize the divorce with agreeable terms for both parties, however, this may not be achievable in the court-ordered allotment of time. At the beginning of therapy, you should work with your counselor and your ex-spouse to identify realistic goals tailored to your unique circumstances.
  • Attend individual and couples sessions. Like marriage counseling, divorce counseling often takes place in both individual and couples sessions. You’ll spend some time alone with your counselor to address questions or concerns you may have in a more private setting. However, couples sessions are critical to the success of divorce counseling and prevent parties from becoming too entrenched in their own narrow worldview.

Do I Need to Work with a Long Island Divorce Attorney?

Going through the process of dissolving your marriage is challenging, with or without divorce counseling. An experienced Long Island family lawyer can provide you with comprehensive legal support and help you navigate the tumultuous waters of divorce. At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we’ll guide you through what to expect throughout each stage of your divorce and give you the tools needed for success. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation at 631-923-1910.

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Schedule your complimentary consultation and case evaluation with our experienced attorneys today. When you call, you’ll speak to our friendly Client Services Director, who will be able to answer your general questions and set up your appointment with an attorney who specializes in your unique case.

At your meeting, your attorney will describe the many options available and determine together which is the right solution for you. By the end of this meeting we’ll all understand how we can best help you to move forward.

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There is no cost or obligation for this initial consultation. It is simply an opportunity for us to get to know each other, answer your questions and learn if Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. is right the right law firm for you. Give us a call at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form below to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation.

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Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.
Steven Frierman
Steven Frierman
02:25 07 Mar 20
After meeting with 3 different lawyers, we felt Robert understood us best and he genuinely had our best interests at heart. This helped us resolve a few minor issues in a timely fashion and make a potentially stressful situation go more smoothly.Thank you
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly


  • I have known Robert for more than 8 eight years. Robert has represented many of my family and friends. Each and every one has raved about Robert’s professionalism and expertise. He is knowledgable, friendly and truly cares about his clients. I would not hesitate to continue to refer Robert and his firm in the future!
  • I’ve known Robert for most of my life, and feel very fortunate that I have been able to turn to a good friend for various kinds of legal advice. He is very intelligent, straight forward, and professional. Most importantly though, Robert always finds the fastest resolution, and will not waste your time or money. He is NOT in the habit of dragging things through litigation if there is no need for the added expense. I have referred a few of my friends to Robert, and they have all been more than satisfied in their experience with him. Highly recommend!!



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