When you file for divorce, you expect the process to move smoothly without any hitches. After all, Texas is a no-fault state, which means you do not need to prove that either party is at fault for the divorce to be granted.
Despite the reasonable conditions to initiate a divorce in Texas, some cases can be more complicated than others. You may even wonder, “Can a judge deny a divorce?” Let’s take a look at what would lead to the rare occurrence of a judge denying your divorce.
How Divorce Works in Texas
In Texas, neither party must prove fault to complete the divorce process. In other words, you do not need to prove that your spouse was unfaithful, abusive, or caused another type of damage. In a no-fault divorce, neither party is held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage.
However, a fault divorce can still be filed if one party believes that the divorce is attributable to the other spouse’s actions. This option does not change the outcome of the divorce, but it may affect how property is divided, how spousal support is awarded, or how child support, child custody, or parenting time decisions are made.
Under the Texas Family Code, there are seven grounds for divorce:
- Felony conviction
- Living apart
- Confinement in a mental hospital
Of these grounds, the most common is insupportability, which simply means that the marriage has become unbearable and there is no hope for reconciliation.
Can a Judge Deny a Divorce and Issue Marriage Counseling?
Let’s say that you want the record to show that the other spouse was at fault for the end of your marriage. The grounds for divorce must be stated in the divorce petition, and the judge will consider these when making a decision on the divorce.
In most cases, a judge will grant a divorce if they find grounds for divorce and the marriage is irretrievably broken. This ruling applies even in contested divorce cases. It typically means that the terms of the divorce — rather than the divorce itself — are not agreed upon.
The court approaches divorce cases from the perspective that it takes two people to make a marriage work, and therefore it will not force someone to stay in a marriage against their will. An inability to agree on the supportability is still considered insupportability, and the judge will likely grant the divorce.
However, the judge has individual discretion in each case. The Texas Family Code gives family law judges the ability to order counseling for divorcing couples if they believe it may be beneficial.
Most judges believe that counseling can only help a marriage if both parties are willing to participate, so it is very rare for a judge to order counseling over one party’s objection. It is even rarer for a judge to deny a divorce outright.
What is the Standard for Denying a Divorce?
For a judge to deny a divorce, they must find no grounds for divorce or that the marriage is not irretrievably broken. This standard is very high, and it is difficult for a judge to find that a marriage is not irretrievably broken when one party requests a divorce.
That isn’t to say that it hasn’t happened. There are a few circumstances in which a judge may be more likely to deny a divorce, and they tend to be for technical reasons rather than substantive ones. Consider these examples:
- You made an error in serving your spouse.
- The divorce papers were not properly filed.
- One or both spouses fail to meet the residency requirements of filing for a divorce.
If you face one of these situations – or have other extenuating circumstances – the judge may deny the divorce.
Additionally, suppose there is evidence that the marriage was initiated fraudulently or that either spouse lacked the mental capacity to consent to the marriage. In that case, the judge may deny the divorce and instead recommend an annulment.
How a Divorce Attorney Can Improve Your Chances of Success
So, can a judge deny a divorce in Texas? The answer is usually no. While it is infrequent for a judge to refuse to grant a divorce outright, there are several ways that the process can be delayed or complicated if an experienced divorce lawyer does not represent you.
If you are concerned that the judge will deny your divorce petition, I can serve as your legal advocate. When you turn to my family law office for help, I will be with you every step to ensure your divorce is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
As a trusted Texas divorce lawyer, I understand how important it is to move on with your life, and I will do everything in my power to help you achieve that goal.
I currently help clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with the divorce process in Texas. If you live in one of these Texas counties, contact my offices today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to schedule a consultation. I will review your case and answer any questions you have.