The Family Law Act provides for family counselling to help people experiencing relationship difficulties to manage interpersonal or personal issues concerning family and children during marriage, divorce or separation.
Family counselling can address hurt feelings, problems between partners or another individual in the family, issues related to the care of children, new financial and living arrangements and adjustments etc.
When family counselling may be needed
It is not easy at all times to keep relationships on a healthy wicket and problems can surface at varying points across our lives. When you experience a shaky moment in your relationship, it may not spell immediate trouble, but potentially could be a sign that you need some help. Family counselling is tuned to provide support and guide couples in meeting one or more challenges they are facing in life.
Family counselling can help in maintaining valued family relationships even in the event of a separation. The focus of the parents on such instances is on what best could be done for their children. Children will have their own emotions and feelings and may not comprehend the situation or have the ability to deal with it.
Adults, young individuals, couples and their kids can all benefit from family counselling, or perhaps a whole family when needed. There can also be situations where one or more individuals are concerned about their own safety as well as the safety of others in the family, such as the children or the elders. The best option is to keep the Service staff at the counselling centre informed of these concerns as soon as possible.
Can family counselling help when a point of no return has been reached
Even in situations where the relationship has been strained to the point of no return, family counselling can be helpful, particularly for the parents in deciding about arrangements for the kids and how parenting would be shared post-separation.
Under the Family Law Act, parents are encouraged to sort out any difference they may have over the kids rather than seek the intervention by a Court. Similarly, there can also be issues concerning dividing the properties, and family counselling can help the couples arrive at an amicable settlement.
Going to court will be not only expensive but also time-consuming. Even when you take your differences to court, you may still be required to see your family counsellor or consultant.
At any point during your legal action, the courts can direct the parties to see a family counsellor to discuss with the objective of resolving the differences concerning the welfare, care and development of the children. Generally, the courts make a parenting order only after the parties have seen a family counsellor. However, this requirement may be waived in some instances, such as in situations where an urgent decision is sought on grounds acceptable to the court.
Family counselling for children
Under the Family Law Act, when a divorce or separation affects children, a family counsellor can counsel children too. However, in such instances, the counsellor is required to have special skills in dealing with children. Depending on individual circumstances, the counsellor may also provide comprehensive counselling for the whole family.
When to see a family counsellor
There is no specific time frame for seeing the family counsellor. However, seeing your family counsellor early on can give the counsellor a better opportunity for the counsellor to help you. Thus, you can see a family counsellor before a proposed marriage, during the marriage, a live-in relationship, after divorce or separation or when you decide to re-marry. You can also see a family counsellor on issues impacting your children irrespective of whether you have ever been married or had a live-in relationship.
In instances of separation, you can seek help from a family counsellor regardless of whether you started a court action or not. A family counsellor can help you wade through emotional problems with your partner or spouse or help you reach an agreement on parental responsibilities.
The information you can expect from a family counsellor
A family counsellor can provide you with referrals to services that could be of help in your situation. This would, however, depend on your position in the relationship such as building up the relationship, creating a new relationship, you are trying to separate or reconcile, you are a blended family etc.
When you are considering divorce, the family counsellor is required to provide you information that can be helpful in reconciliation (except when you feel that reconciliation is a remote possibility).
When you are already separated and need to address issues regarding children, the family counsellor is required to provide you with information regarding parenting plans and related services like family dispute resolution that are available for your help.
Generally speaking, all your conversations with the family counsellor under the Family Law Act are confidential barring certain specific circumstances and can include prevention of a severe threat to the life of someone or preventing a potential crime. However, you should speak to your counsellor on confidentiality and gain a thorough understanding of how the provisions apply in your case.
Cost of family counselling
A fee is prescribed for family counselling and will be guided by your financial abilities to pay. If you are experiencing financial difficulties or have a low income, you should let the counsellor know of this, and he can activate arrangements to ensure that you can still access family counselling.
The underlying objective of family counselling is to explore the tiniest possibility of bringing the warring parties to vent their feelings, and through that, evolve a method/s to reconcile the differences. An absence of quality communication has often been seen to be the primary impediment in reconciliation.