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Can a Judge Deny a Divorce and Force Marriage Counseling?

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A judge can deny a divorce and force marriage counseling in certain circumstances. In most states, a divorce can be granted by a court if the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, some states allow judges to deny a divorce and require couples to attend marriage counseling instead.

Marriage counselingIn order for a judge to deny a divorce and force marriage counseling, it must be determined that the couple is able to reconcile their differences. The judge makes this determination based on the evidence presented at a hearing. Generally speaking, the judge will consider the length of the marriage, how long the couple has been separated, the financial status of the marriage, any children involved, and any other issues that may have led to the breakdown of the marriage.

When a judge denies a divorce and forces marriage counseling, the couple will typically be required to attend counseling for a period of time, usually six months or more. During this time, the couple will work with a marriage counselor to try to resolve the issues that led to the breakdown of the marriage. The counselor will evaluate the couple’s communication styles, power dynamics, and other factors that may have contributed to the divorce.

If the couple is able to reconcile their differences, the court will generally grant the divorce. If they are not able to resolve the issues, the judge may choose to extend the marriage counseling period or deny the divorce altogether.

In some cases, a judge may require the couple to attend counseling even if the couple agrees to get divorced. This is often done when the judge believes the couple should attempt to reconcile their differences before divorcing.

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What States Require Marriage Counseling Before a Divorce?

Currently, only two states—Alaska and New Jersey—require couples to attend marriage counseling before obtaining a divorce. In Alaska, couples must attend a minimum of three (3) counseling sessions, while in New Jersey, the requirement is one (1) counseling session.

Ultimately, judges have the discretion to deny a divorce and force marriage counseling if they believe it is in the best interests of the couple and any children involved.

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