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Compulsory Marriage Counselling in Australian Divorce Proceedings

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Have you ever wondered what happens when couples decide to divorce in Australia? While separation is a difficult and emotional process for all involved, certain legal procedures must be followed. 

One of these steps involves compulsory marriage counselling for separating couples before they can proceed with any changes in their relationship status through the Family Court system.

Whether you’re ending a long-standing partnership or about to embark on your divorce journey, understanding the laws around compulsory counselling regarding Australian family law is key to understanding how it could affect your situation.

This blog post will delve into the specifics behind compulsory marriage counselling under Australian Divorce Proceedings and discuss how this legally binding step affects separating couples within Australia.

Overview of compulsory marriage counselling in Australia

Compulsory marriage counselling is a process required by law in Australia for couples seeking a divorce. 

The purpose of this counselling is to allow the divorcing couple to explore options other than divorce and to assist them in resolving any differences between the parties before they move forward with a permanent legal separation. 

It is also an important part of the process to ensure that both parties fully understand the implications of divorce on their finances and future well-being.

Compulsory marriage counselling in Australia is typically conducted by an independent counsellor or mediator approved by the court. 

The counsellor will assess each individual’s circumstances, help them identify any issues that need to be addressed before the divorce, and provide both parties with support, guidance, and advice to aid them in making decisions about their future.

Marriage counselling usually consists of one or more sessions where both parties can discuss any issues causing problems. The goal of the counselling is to help couples reach an agreement that will benefit both parties and, if necessary, provide mediation services to assist them in resolving any disputes.

At the end of the counselling process, the counsellor may recommend that further action or legal advice be taken to finalise the divorce proceedings. Couples are encouraged to seek independent legal advice before deciding on their divorce.

It is important to remember that compulsory marriage counselling in Australia is not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice and should not be used as an alternative to seeking professional help if the couple has difficulties resolving their differences outside the courtroom. 

Compulsory marriage counselling can provide couples with support, guidance, and information during difficult times. However, couples must understand the full implications of divorce before making any decisions. 

Couples should also consider seeking individual counselling before or in addition to compulsory marriage counselling, as individual sessions may provide the best opportunity for each party to express their feelings and concerns privately.

Advantages of mandatory pre-divorce counselling

Compulsory marriage counselling in Australian divorce proceedings has been argued to have many advantages. It can provide couples with a better understanding of their conflict resolution skills and help them evaluate the underlying issues that are causing the breakdown of their relationship. 

This knowledge enables couples to make more informed decisions about how to proceed with their divorce proceedings, which can benefit both parties. 

Furthermore, it can help reduce hate and hostility between couples, as they are allowed to work through their issues constructively and collaboratively. 

Mandatory pre-divorce counselling also has other benefits, such as:

  • Improved communication between spouses
  • Increased understanding of each other’s needs and feelings
  • Better conflict resolution skills
  • An opportunity to discuss financial matters in a practical way
  • Insight into the impact of divorce on children, if applicable.

Compulsory marriage counselling is valuable for couples considering or going through a divorce. It can provide both parties with insight into the issues and help them reach an amicable agreement. 

Couples must remember that it is a requirement in Australian divorce proceedings and should not be avoided. Furthermore, seeking experienced professionals who can guide you through the difficult divorce process can be beneficial.

What to expect from pre-divorce counselling sessions

Pre-divorce counselling sessions typically involve parties attending several meetings with a trained professional. These meetings are designed to help couples identify and address the issues that have caused their relationship breakdown to reach an amicable agreement on matters such as property division, child custody, spousal support, and more.

During the sessions, couples will be encouraged to openly discuss their feelings and thoughts on the relationship. Both parties must take an active role in proceedings as this helps to ensure that any potential disagreements are addressed before a divorce application is filed. 

The counselling process also provides the couple a safe space to discuss their issues and explore ways to resolve them.

It is important to note that pre-divorce counselling is not to encourage reconciliation but to help couples reach an amicable agreement on matters relating to their divorce and separation without going through the court process. 

By having a trained counsellor involved, spouses can be assured of a non-judgmental space to openly discuss their issues and explore solutions.

The number of sessions required will vary depending on the complexity of the divorce but typically range from three to five. 

At the end of each session, couples will be encouraged to exchange contact information so that they may continue discussing matters outside of counselling appointments.

In Australia, compulsory marriage counselling is a prerequisite for couples who want to file divorce proceedings. This requirement helps ensure that the couple has explored all potential solutions to their issues and has reached a mutual understanding on matters related to their separation.

How to prepare for compulsory marriage counselling

If you and your spouse have begun divorce proceedings in Australia, it is likely that at some point, you will be required to attend compulsory marriage counselling. 

While additional meetings with your soon-to-be ex-spouse may not sound ideal, compulsory marriage counselling could help you achieve a smoother transition for both parties. 

To best prepare for such meetings, there are a few steps to consider taking you can take:

  1. Seek out the most qualified counsellor possible. The Australian government has strict regulations that all counsellors must adhere to to be approved for compulsory marriage counselling services.
    Do your research and ensure you find someone who meets these criteria and has the skills to assist you and your spouse in resolving any issues.
  1. Prepare to discuss the details of your divorce settlement without getting emotional. Compulsory marriage counselling is meant to be a constructive discussion on how best to divide assets, property, and other matters relating to the dissolution of your marriage.
    It may be difficult not to get worked up, but remaining calm and collected will help the counselling process move along more quickly.
  1. Discuss any specific goals or objectives you would like to come out of the divorce before attending counselling sessions. Having a clear idea of what you want from the result may make it easier for both parties to find common ground and reach an agreement.

The impact of divorce on children and how marriage counselling can help

Divorce is a difficult process for all involved, but it can be particularly damaging to children. 

Studies have indicated that the breakup of a family unit can cause psychological harm – such as lower self-esteem, guilt and sadness, confusion in identity formation, and difficulties forming relationships with peers.

In Australia, compulsory marriage counselling is a requirement for couples considering divorce to help them work through the issues they are facing in their relationship and potentially save it. 

This counselling aims to assist both parties in understanding the implications of divorce – particularly on the children – and exploring options other than separation or divorce.

The counsellor will assess the family’s need family’s information and guidance to assist with decision-making, explore the underlying issues of why the marriage is breaking down and help couples create an action plan or agreement on how they will move forward. 

It can be a difficult process, but it brings about a respectful resolution that benefits all parties – allowing both parents to remain involved in their children’s lives and minimising the negative impact of divorce on them.


Is Counselling mandatory for divorce in Australia?

Yes. In Australia, if both parties agree to separate or have already separated, they must usually attend compulsory marriage counselling as part of the divorce proceedings. This aims to determine whether any alternatives can be explored before taking the final step of seeking a divorce order from a court.

What are the rules for divorce in Australia?

Divorce is regulated by the Family Law Act 1975. To apply for a divorce, couples must have lived separately and apart for at least 12 months before applying to the court, or if they are still living together, they must demonstrate that there is no reasonable likelihood of them reconciling. Couples may also be required to attend compulsory marriage counselling before being granted a divorce order.

What is the purpose of pre-divorce counselling?

Pre-divorce counselling allows couples to work through their issues and consider alternatives before taking the final step of seeking a divorce order from a court. Pre-divorce counselling aims to help couples develop communication and conflict resolution strategies to reach a mutual agreement and minimise stress on any children involved.

Can you get a divorce in Australia if married overseas?

Yes. If you were married overseas, you could apply for a divorce in Australia if you meet the residency requirements. You must provide evidence that shows your marriage is valid under Australian law and prove that you have been separated for at least 12 months before applying to court. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to attend compulsory marriage counselling.

Does counselling help with divorce in Australia?

Yes, pre-divorce counselling can benefit couples seeking a divorce in Australia. It can provide an opportunity to explore alternatives and consider the impact of separation on any children involved. Compulsory marriage counselling may also help couples develop strategies to reach an agreement, which can reduce the stress and cost associated with a divorce application.


In conclusion, it is important to consider the implications of compulsory marriage counselling in Australia for couples looking to get a divorce. While this can be an uncomfortable and difficult process, it can provide much-needed space for individuals to reflect on their past relationships before making a final decision. 

Seeking guidance from an unbiased third party, like those typically involved in pre-divorce counselling services, can also clarify the situation.

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