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When “Marriage Counseling” Turns into “Divorce Counseling”

It’s no secret that not all couples undergoing marriage counseling are successful.  Sometimes divorce is inevitable.  However, when a mental health professional sees that “marriage counseling” is turning into “divorce counseling,” they do not have to end their relationship with the couple and send them off to divorce attorneys.  The counselor is a wonderful resource who can provide continuity of treatment while the couple goes through the legal process of divorce.  This concept is called “Team Mediation,” and professionals in the St. Louis area have begun using this process with great success. Team Mediation can begin in the mental health professional’s office.  Once the mental health expert has identified that divorce is indeed unavoidable, he or she can recommend that the couple hire a “team” to help them through the divorce process.  This team consists of a mental health professional, an attorney/mediator and a certified financial planner. The couple meets with the attorney/mediator to devise a plan for living apart and to draft the required legal documents.  The attorney, in the role of mediator, uses mediation skills to help the couple settle their divorce issues in a cooperative manner.  The desired result is to reach an agreement without having to go to court. Obviously, the certified financial planner is extremely important in helping the couple obtain a clear picture of their financial situation, which in turn, sets up parameters for discussion about maintenance, child support and the future cash flow needs of the parties.  The certified financial planner can also undertake the difficult job of valuing retirement accounts and pensions along with determining the true value of the parties’...