Last Updated on November 21, 2022 by Turner Thornton
Divorce is never ideal. After all, what couple anticipates their relationship failing?
Unfortunately, divorce is often necessary when issues in the marriage can’t be resolved. And by the time one of the parties considers divorce, the chance that marriage counseling can save the relationship may have passed.
Counseling, however, is often wise before making such a life-altering decision as divorce. And in Texas, a judge can actually order marriage counseling in divorce – albeit rare.
In this post, we’ll look at the role marriage counseling has during a divorce, the powers of a Texas judge, and what you should do if your spouse wants a divorce.
If you’re considering divorce, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side. The Varghese Summersett Family Law Group has 30 years of experience in North Texas, fighting for clients with expertise and compassion.
Does Texas require marriage counseling during a divorce?
No. But Texas Family Code Sec. 6.505 allows the court to direct both parties in a pending divorce to meet with a couples counselor. Although rare, it happens.
What does Texas law allow judges to order during a divorce?
Per the Texas Family Code, a judge can order a married couple to see a court-appointed counselor before approving a divorce. The counselor submits “a written report to the court and the parties before the final hearing.”
The counselor’s report offers an opinion on “whether there exists a reasonable expectation of reconciliation of the parties and, if so, whether further counseling would be beneficial.”
The counselor’s report helps the judge determine whether the divorce proceedings should continue pending further counseling.
If the judge thinks there is a reasonable chance the marriage can be salvaged, the court, by written order, could require further counseling for a maximum 60-day period, “subject to any terms, conditions, and limitations the court considers desirable.”
The law says “the court may consider the circumstances of the parties, including the needs of the parties’ family and the availability of counseling services,” not the court “shall.” This makes the decision of counseling wholly specific to each judge.
When the court-specified time period expires, the counselor reports to the court as to the compliance of both parties. From there, the judge generally proceeds with the divorce process.
Can a Texas judge force you to stay married?
No. But in rare cases, a judge could delay your divorce. If the court-appointed counselor’s report finds there is a reasonable chance of reconciliation, the judge can order more counseling sessions for up to a 60-day period. Of course, after the 60-day period, the couple can choose to continue divorce proceedings.
When would a Texas judge order marriage counseling?
Although it’s rare, a family court judge could find a reason to order marriage counseling with a court-appointed counselor.
If the judge believes neither spouse wants a divorce, he could order counseling to preserve the marriage. If the judge sees ways the couple could resolve their disputes without divorce, he could order counseling. If the judge believes preserving the marriage is integral to a child’s well-being, the couple could be ordered into counseling.
Again, Texas judges rarely engage in this action. Couples do often agree, however, to counseling as a term of their temporary mediated settlement agreement.
Does Texas require counseling during a divorce if children are involved?
No, but if a judge orders marriage counseling during a divorce and children are involved, the judge can also order additional family-oriented counseling.
Although it’s not mentioned in Texas Famly Code, counseling for children during a divorce can help them adjust during an often traumatic experience.
When would a Texas judge not require marriage counseling?
As we’ve pointed out, court-appointed marriage counseling is rare in Texas. And in some divorce cases, the judge wouldn’t even consider it there is a history of domestic violence, financial problems, or if there is no chance of it helping.
Domestic violence: If there has been any type of physical or mental abuse in the marriage, couples counseling is not going to help.
Health insurance: If the couple doesn’t have health insurance or the cash to pay for the counseling, the judge is unlikely to force the financial burden upon them.
Chances of helping: If at least one party is adamant about divorcing, counseling is unlikely to change their mind. Judges typically don’t seek out delays or extra expenses.
My spouse filed for divorce, but I want to stay married
Divorce can be one of the most emotionally difficult times in someone’s life. That’s especially true if your spouse wants a divorce, but you want to stay together.
The first thing you need to do is hire an experienced family law attorney. You should also find a therapist.
The family law attorney will help you navigate the legal process and protect your interest. A trained therapist will help you work through the emotions of the moment and teach you how to deal with the frustration and sadness often associated with a divorce.
Considering divorce? Call Varghese Summersett.
Whether you’re seeking a divorce or just found out your spouse wants out of the marriage, the end of a relationship can be devastating. Divorce can be one of the most unsettling periods of a person’s life. Having an experienced family law attorney at your side, minding the details to protect your interest, will help alleviate some of that burden. The Varghese Summersett Family Law Group is here for you with a team of skilled attorneys who will help navigate you through the process. For a consultation, call us at 817-900-3220.