I have been a practicing attorney in Texas for over twenty-four (24) years, and it happens almost every year. A client hires me to file a divorce matter in a family law case in Harris County or Fort Bend County or some surrounding county in the Houston or Katy or Sugar Land, Texas area; and, in mid-case, I get the call, “my spouse and I want to reconcile” or “we want to attempt reconciliation”. This is not a call a Lawyer likes to get, and it is not because of fees. Instead, it is because of the chaotic effect reconciliation can have on the case if it is not well planned or well intended.
When reconciliation is attempted in the midst of an active divorce matter there are several issues that must be considered, including but not limited to: Will the case be dismissed? Will the case be abated temporarily? What are the immediate deadlines in the case? Have any orders, injunctions, or other Court directives been put into place that will be affected? How will reconciliation affect the children? How will it affect the costs and fees in the case?
What every client needs to understand is that when an Attorney files a divorce matter he/she takes action in the case to further and protect the client’s interest, which is to obtain a divorce that includes fair and reasonable terms. This may include obtaining orders and other temporary relief up front in the case so that the parties are in a position to adequately pursue the case to conclusion, either by settlement or trial.
If there are temporary orders in place and the case is dismissed those temporary orders disappear. If temporary orders, or similar orders exist, dismissing your case could cause major personal and financial hardship. That means child support, spousal support, the award of interim attorneys fees, injunctions, custody orders, visitation orders, medical support orders, and other similar orders will be in jeopardy, or may no longer be in effect.
This is important, because sometimes reconciliation is a strategy employed by the opposing party to gain relief from temporary orders that they deem undesirable or burdensome. The spouse may suggest reconciliation and dismissal of the case not because they have a sincere desire to reconcile, but because they know (or have been advised) that if the case is dismissed the otherwise burdensome order(s) will disappear upon dismissal. It also gives them an opportunity to alter their current circumstances to make it more difficult to obtain similar orders in a future divorce proceeding.
In my experience, reconciliation seldom is successful in divorce cases unless the parties decide to obtain serious marital counseling. This does not include meeting with your pastor a few times or enlisting your friends to give you advice. It does include enrollment in an established marriage counseling program with a regimented curriculum designed to identify the problems each party is having in the marriage ( and the problems of the children ), and whether those problems can be reconciled between the parties. If one spouse or the other is not fully committed to intensive marriage counseling then this can be a sign that the suggestion of reconciliation is not sincere.
In conclusion, if reconciliation is considered in the midst of a divorce matter make sure the request is sincere, and not opportunistic. For the best chance of success consider enrolling in a reputable marriage counseling program. And, you should be careful about dismissing the case outright until you have considered all the potential consequences that will result from a dismissal.
If you need help with a divorce or other family law matter contact the Law Office of Daniel E. McCarty, Jr. at (713) 464-7000 to schedule an appointment with an Attorney to discuss your case and specific concerns. Mr. McCarty is an experienced lawyer you can trust with over two decades of experience handling divorce and family law cases for his clients.
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