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Is Counseling or Therapy During Divorce Or Another Type of Family Law Case Helpful?

Having a therapist during any kind of significant life change or transition can often be helpful. During the course of a contested family law case, approximately 80% or more of our clients end up benefitting from one or more sessions of counseling or therapy. Some clients will ask if attending therapy will be negative or concerning for their case. I always tell clients to be honest, but consider what they are telling their therapist. If you are in the midst of litigation, it is possible that anything you say to your therapist could end up in the court room as Exhibit A. Thus, it is clearly not going to be helpful to your custody case if you confess to your therapist that you want to get rid of your children at times because you are so frustrated. Use therapy as a solution oriented, problem solving tool to help identify issues and concerns with a goal toward finding constructive solutions. Not only can this type of approach look beneficial and reasonable to the court, but it will also positively affect your life skills, your parenting and hopefully, your interactions with the other parent and even your performance and involvement in the litigation process. 

What Are the Benefits of Working with a Therapist During a Divorce or Other Family Law Litigation?

1. Litigation is generally a very emotional, draining process for even the most capable people:

There are few situations that can create as much stress, fear, worry anxiety, sadness, uncertainty and many other emotions as a divorce or other family law litigation. Not only are you dealing with the likely loss of a relationship, but also uncertainties about your financial future and your future access and parenting of your children. For most people, these things represent everything that matters most to them in the world. It is only natural that you would be depressed and sad about the situation and the risks that you face or anxious and worried about how everything is going to turn out. As a family law attorney, I often worry more about the parents who seem to be going through the process without a worry or fear or concern.  Even the most psychologically healthy, mentally strong people are often devastated by the loss of their relationship, the worry about how their children are adapting, and the changes that rea coming in their life circumstances. Even if you don’t require weekly or other regularly scheduled mental health/therapy appointments, getting established with a skilled and knowledgeable counselor or therapist will ensure that they are available to you if circumstances call for it. Many clients that appear to be doing really well suddenly have a situation or dispute or something else that hits them particularly hard and they then need some intervention and assistance. Be ready with a resource in case you need it. We would rather you have a resource available that you did not need than to desperately need a resource but be unable to get into an appointment with a therapist for several months because of waiting lists.

2. Divorce Lawyers or Family Lawyers Aren’t Trained to Help You the Same Way as Therapists:

Often in going through a difficult family law situation, people simply need a third-party to listen and process emotions with. Some clients elect to do this with their divorce or family law attorney because they are an available resource and often the lines of legal needs and emotional or personal needs become blurred and intermixed. While this is often okay, divorce or family law attorneys are generally significantly more expensive than a therapist. Your attorney may be to give you constructive feedback or thoughts but they are not trained to address things in the same fashion as a mental health provider. While the emotional components of a situation are important to you, they are often not legally relevant to the outcome of the proceeding. Whereas, mental health providers focus on the situation from solely the perspective of your individual needs and coping. Your attorney’s ability to focus on legal strategies and solutions will make him or her efficient in court and in advocating on your behalf, but if you need solutions about emotional or personal needs, a therapist is best-suited to help with that process.

3. Being in an Optimal Emotional State Will Help your Family Law Case Conclude Efficiently:

Many divorces are not complicated from a legal standpoint, but often emotions, hurt feelings and other history between the parties is an impediment to the parties cooperating and collaborating to find reasonable solutions. Often, if both parties will take the time to ensure that they are emotionally healthy and have processed the hurt from the failed relationship, they will more successfully be able to collaborate to find solutions to resolve their case and to co-parent with one another going forward. Having a mental health professional guide you can not only allow for an effective and appropriate release and processing of hurt and other negative emotions, but it can also allow you to see the hurt of the other person and be solution-oriented in trying to meet your needs, as well as the other person’s needs.

4. Divorces are Often Especially Hard on Children

No matter how much effort a parent puts into hiding their emotions and protecting a child from the divorce or other change in the relationship status, the children can sense and understand when a parent is bothered or upset. The more a parent is able to process and work through unresolved feelings and emotions with a therapist, the less the parent will have unresolved reactions to issues or disagreements that arise during the case process. By seeing a therapist, that person can also provide invaluable guidance and feedback on your children’s adjustment to the divorce process and even help you to assess and evaluate whether your children need some mental health assistance as well. 

5. Therapists are Almost Always More Cost-Effective than Counselors:

While lawyers generally charge a few hundred dollars per hour, a therapist is often $100 or less per hour and in many situations, you will have health insurance benefits or funds from an employer assistance program that will cover some or all of the costs of a pre-determined number of sessions. If you need a trustworthy person to vent and process frustrations and give you a neutral, non-emotional perspective about issues and concerns, often a therapist can do that significantly more cost-effective than your divorce or family law attorney.

For most people, their divorce or other family law case is one of the most difficult, emotional times in your life. It is not a sign of weakness or inability to adapt if you need to seek some professional guidance or input to be as mentally healthy as possible in light of your difficult circumstances. An intelligent and well-reasoned, responsible person seeks out and obtains professional resources to assist with problems and issues when needed.

If you are going through a divorce or other family law matter and you need a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney for your case in Kansas or Missouri, consider Pingel Family Law for your case needs. Not only do our attorneys have resources for effective and solution-oriented therapists to help you, but they also have creative, helpful legal solutions and strategies to help you implement. In our experience, a good legal strategy of having a plan of action and implementing that plan of action, along with getting appropriate assistance from a qualified mental health therapist when needed will generally significantly change your outlook on the situation. Call today for your case consultation and assessment with one of our compassionate and understanding attorneys (816) 208-8130.


"I have known Attorney Pingel for more than fifteen (15) years. Mandee is a lawyer I consider a respected colleague. She has a reputation for being intelligent, knowledgeable about the law, well-prepared and kind."

- A Lawyer in Liberty, Missouri