Last updated 16 November 2016. This chapter is currently under review.
When a marriage breaks down, counselling may assist the parties in considering reconciliation or in adjusting to their altered situation. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (Family Law Act) sets out specific requirements for practitioners and counsellors, dispute resolution practitioners and others to provide information to clients about non-court based services and reconciliation (pt IIIA Family Law Act). The court is also obliged to consider reconciliation in appropriate cases where it can refer parties to alternative services and adjourn proceedings to allow parties to obtain further assistance (pt IIIB Family Law Act).
In some situations, it will be obvious that counselling would be futile. However, counselling may be useful when reconciliation is a real possibility, or the parties want emotional support during the turmoil caused by the breakdown of the marriage. Even if the parties are actively opposed to any reconciliation, counselling can be useful to help them make arrangements and decisions that arise from their continuing separation.
In Queensland, a number of organisations are approved under the Family Law Act as marriage counsellors (see Contact Points).
When, at the time of filing an application for dissolution, the parties have been married for less than two years, the application must include a certificate signed by a counsellor to show that the parties have considered reconciliation (see Divorce within two years of marriage above).