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Specialty tag(s): Divorce

Counseling Reports May Be Required for Some Texas Divorces

Lerrin Reinecke | February 17, 2018

Is counseling required before divorce? Can a judge order marriage counseling? A typical family lawyer might argue that no judge should have the right to order counseling under the personal belief that a divorcing couple might have a chance for reconciliation. Yet under Section 6.505 of the Texas Family Code, judges actually have this right. When the court requires counseling, this requirement might delay the overall divorce process, but it does not permanently prevent a divorce from moving forward.

How Court-Mandated Counseling Works

Judges do not often mandate counseling, but they may do so when they see signs that a couple has a good chance at reconciliation. Virtually any type of signal might generate this mandate, such as the following:

  • Perhaps a judge interprets statements made in the divorce filing as an indication that neither party has a strong interest in ending the marriage.
  • The judge might see alternate solutions that could potentially resolve a couple’s disputes without the need for divorce.
  • The children might benefit significantly by remaining in a two-parent home.

Whatever the reason, the 60-day waiting period after filing for divorce provides adequate time for couples to schedule an appointment with a court-appointed counselor. The counselor’s role is to explore the couple’s capacity to reconcile and issue a report to the court. If the report states that reconciliation is not reasonable, the divorce proceeds at the end of the 60-day waiting period without further delays.

If, on the other hand, the report indicates that there is a reasonable expectation of reconciliation, the court may order continued sessions with a court-appointed counselor for a fixed period that cannot exceed 60 days. As long as the couple complies with the order and the counselor reports back to the court within the designated time period, the end of the counseling marks the beginning of the divorce process, assuming the couple still wants to proceed.

Pre-Divorce Preparation Can Help Prevent the Need for Counseling After Filing

Many couples make the decision to divorce with more difficulty than when they decided to get married. It is important to understand, however, that experienced divorce lawyers do not automatically view clients’ requests for divorce as the right choice.

Attorneys who focus on this specialized area of the law know how to quickly develop open and honest relationships with their clients. When they recognize that further exploration of alternatives is needed before deciding to file for divorce, they encourage clients to take a step back. They may recommend counseling or other resources that couples should consider before making the final decision.

Of course, when divorce is the best choice, skilled attorneys know how to create filings that are unlikely to create a red flag that generates a judge’s counseling mandate. To make sure that the best alternative is divorce and to help the process move forward without unnecessary delays, contact Goranson Bain Ausley.

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Lerrin is trained in collaborative law and focuses on reaching out-of-court settlements whenever possible; however, she is a skilled litigator who will take cases to court if necessary. With each case, Lerrin works with clients and not just for them, striving to achieve their most important goals.

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