First and foremost, your goal to minimize conflict in your divorce is admirable and certainly in your and your spouse’s and children’s (if involved) best interests. In most cases, however, no, you cannot force your spouse to undergo counseling so that your divorce goes more smoothly. It is unlikely that a Judge would require a divorcing spouse to counseling for purposes of your divorce proceeding alone. On the other hand, if there are minor children involved and you and your spouse are having issues co-parenting then it is more likely that your Judge will consider your request for counseling for you and your spouse, the minor child(ren) and/or the appointment of a co-parenting coordinator to assist you and your spouse with issues involving the minor children and perhaps to learn how to co-parent.
If your goal is to have your divorce go more smoothly then there are other divorce process options to consider for a more peaceful divorce between you and your spouse. These divorce process options still require your spouse’s agreement. Specifically, one of the underlying principles of the Collaborative Divorce process is to provide a forum to deal with issues that might otherwise create bumps in your divorce road and require the involvement of the court resulting in expensive litigation fees.
Collaborative Divorce is a team approach to divorce involving the parties, their Collaborative Divorce trained attorneys, divorce coaches (mental health professionals), child specialists (also mental health professionals) and financial specialists, as may be needed. All of the professionals in this process undergo specific and special training for collaborative divorce (cite CPIM website).
For your purpose, the inclusion of divorce coaches should help you to achieve your goal to have a divorce that will proceed more smoothly. Again, however, the Collaborative Divorce process requires your spouse’s agreement. If you find yourself in a position of high conflict and your spouse refuses counseling or the collaborative process, you may still consider using a collaboratively trained divorce coach for your own well being as you go through this emotional phase of your life.
Alisa A. Peskin-Shepherd is a Michigan Family Law Attorney who concentrates her practice in all areas of family law. She is specially trained in Family, Divorce, Custody and Collaborative Divorce. Alisa is an approved mediator for Wayne and Oakland County Circuit Courts.