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The 5 Things Marriage Counsellors Need To Know About Family Law in Ontario

By | - April 23, 2018

Steve Benmor is a recognized divorce lawyer, family mediator, arbitrator, speaker, writer and educator. Mr. Benmor has worked as lead counsel in many divorce trials, held many leadership positions in the legal community and has been regularly interviewed on television, radio and in newspapers as an expert in Family Law.

Marriage Counsellors are the first responders to marital crisis. Spouses who are having a difficult time in their relationship will invariably turn to therapy to resolve their problems. Marriage Counsellors excellent facilitators of better communication and collaborative problem-solving.  Because of the position of trust that Marriage Counsellors hold with spouses, it is critical that day appreciate the impact of their words and even their silence. 

Here are the 5 things Marriage Counsellors need to know about Family law in Ontario:

#1 – It’s The Law
The Divorce Act compels lawyers to advise clients of the need to seek marriage counselling before proceeding with divorce. These are not just words on paper. This is federal legislation. Spouses who seek legal advice regarding divorce are regularly directed to marriage counsellors to explore whether the marriage can sustain. Therefore, consider developing professional relationships with Divorce lawyers so that you can benefit from these referrals. 

#2  – Small Things Have Big Influence
Separating spouses will often have selective hearing from marriage counselling sessions. The smallest of comment or body language from the marriage counsellor can influence a spouse’s decision to remain in the relationship or end it. When a couple is in the throes of marital discord, they are both sensitive highly sensitive and impressionable.  Be aware of your influence. 

#3 – Parenting Routine = Parenting Plans
The most recent parenting routines tend to set the foundation for the parenting responsibilities following separation. For example, if in the months leading up to separation, each parent was equally sharing childcare responsibilities, this then may set a benchmark for the parenting plan that will be established following separation. Remember this when you are trying to help your client figure out how to co-parent during their separation. 

#4  – Your Notes May Play A Key Role
The clinical notes and records of the marriage counsellor may be compelled to be produced in divorce court. A spouse may allege domestic violence or addictions while the other spouse may deny the allegations. In such cases, they may turn to their marriage counsellor’s notes to prove or disprove such allegations.   So ensure that your notes are accurate, complete and legible in case you are called upon to share them.  

#5 – A Lawyer Can Be Your Ally
The greatest thing that a marriage counsellor can do is help a family stay together. Sometimes, this is not the work of just the therapist but of the spouses and their lawyers as well. Good divorce lawyers can work collaboratively with the spouses’ marriage counsellor to thwart a divorce and bring back marital harmony.  

Marriage Counsellors are the professionals that service the family during the marriage, during the separation, and then even after their divorce. They are the trusted professionals that spouses turn to assist them in their most challenging of times.  In fact, many families have been fortunate to experience the return to family harmony because of the great work of Marriage Counsellors. Over the years, I have worked closely with Marriage Counsellors have been most impressed with the impact they have had on families and children.


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