Marriage counseling seeks to identify the sources of conflict in a marriage and provide healthy ways of resolving such conflicts. Marriage counseling is an alternative to divorce or separation for some couples. Marriage counseling may also be sought by couples in the process of a divorce or separation to help them deal with the changes and emotions being experienced so that the process is dealt with in a healthy manner. Such counseling may benefit both the couple and any children who may be affected by negative feelings such as anger and vindictiveness.
Laws vary by state, but some state laws allow a couple to obtain a marriage license for a reduced fee if they undergo premarital counseling. Marital counseling is also generally a requirement for the who opt for a covenant marriage. Some state laws give judges the authority to order marriage counseling. In states where the judge may order counseling, the judge often delays the divorce proceeding for a month or two during the counseling period.