Can a Texas Judge Order Marriage Counseling During a Divorce?
Posted by Ramos Law Group, PLLC | Divorce
Short answer – depends!
There is a provision in the Texas Family Code § 6.505 giving a Texas family law judge the authority to mandate that parties attend marriage counseling during a divorce but it is rarely used. Texas family law judges can order parties to attend various types of counseling and evaluations – coparenting, drug and alcohol dependency, etc. if counseling if is in the best interest of the parties.
Family law judges have quite a burdensome docket and if a couple is standing before a judge asking for a divorce, many judges may feel counseling is too little, too late or a waste of their limited docket resources. There is also nothing in the Texas Family Code that would force a judge to order marriage counseling, it is entirely within each individual judge’s discretion. The code language states “the court may direct the parties to counsel with a person named by the court” not that the court shall direct the parties.
That being said, it has happened. Parties agree to counseling as a term of their temporary mediated settlement agreement provisions all the time and there are some judges who are big advocates of counseling (for all situations, not just divorcing couples). Even if a marriage is too far gone for counseling to save, it is a great option for divorcing couples with children as there will be a long road of co-parenting ahead.
There are many factors for a judge to consider when deciding if ordering some sort of counseling is appropriate:
- Has domestic violence occurred? If so, the parties cannot be in the same room together and counseling is unlikely to be helpful.
- Do the parties have health insurance that will cover the costs of counseling or do they have the funds to pay for counseling? Many marriage counselors do not take insurance and in today’s climate there are few couples who have the resources to pay for such an extraneous expense.
- Will counseling actually help the parties or is it more like sending them to detention? If a spouse has checked out of the marriage and is adamant about the divorce, then counseling is probably going to be viewed as a punishment rather than a therapeutic tool.
As one might imagine, every divorce case is different so there is no hard and fast rule as to whether a judge will order a couple to marriage counseling. The best way to determine if court-mandated marriage counseling during a divorce is appropriate for your case is to discuss your facts and circumstances with a licensed Texas family law attorney. The experienced legal team at The Ramos Law Group has handled a multitude of cases with a focus on family counseling and can advise you as to your specific case. Contact us today! (713) 225-6200