- Australian couples wishing to divorce after less than two years of marriage need to obtain a certificate from a marriage counsellor indicating that the marriage is irreconcilable.
- Usually one session will suffice to enable the counsellor to issue the certificate
- Couples should take advantage of the opportunity to explore their issues and improve their communication. Even if the divorce proceeds, the counselling experience can facilitate an amicable separation.
Obtaining a Counselling Certificate
When couples who have been married for less than two years wish to file for divorce, Family Law in Australia requires that these couples see a couples’ counsellor first (Family Law Act 1975, Section 44[1B]). Whilst this law may seem like another hoop to jump through in the long process of divorce, it does exist in the best interest of the newly married couple.
Is Divorce your Best Solution?
The primary purpose of this law is to ensure that other options to improve the relationship have been considered before reaching the conclusion that divorce is the only option. The counsellor provides a signed form at the conclusion of the session stating that the possibility of reconciliation has been discussed. This usually only requires one session, unless the couple finds the session beneficial and decides to work toward reconciliation with further counselling.
In many cases, counselling can help the couple to reconcile the issues that challenge a relationship. Couples counselling provides a neutral and objective environment to encourage open communication, allowing the couple to explore their relationship problems from a different perspective. Communication is often a focus of couples counselling, as communication issues are a major contributing factor to the breakdown of a relationship. The counsellor can also assist the couple in developing skills to recognise and resolve conflict, allowing for better management of future conflicts.
If the couple does decide to divorce, counselling can help to facilitate an amicable separation.
Undergoing counselling during the divorce process can also be beneficial at the individual level. Divorce can sometimes trigger feelings of guilt, grief, depression and anxiety, and counselling may help the individual to better cope with the difficulties of divorce.
Ultimately, the law requiring newly married couples to see a couples counsellor prior to filing for divorce is not just another box to tick, rather it is an opportunity for support and guidance for the couple, whether they decide to divorce or not.
Counselling for Marriages & Divorces
Our service offers both individual and couples counselling, and our counsellors are happy to consult with couples considering divorce and sign the required form. You are welcome to contact us at Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney to book an appointment or to further enquire about our services.
Please note that we are no longer able to provide counselling certificates for applications for divorce when the couple have been married for less than 2 years. You will need to obtain this from a practitioner listed under the Attorney General’s department website.