When are Family Law Attorneys Happy to be Fired?  Marriage Reconciliation!

By Dugan P. Kelley

Webster’s defines “reconciliation” as the act of causing two people to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement.  In the context of a family crisis, like a divorce proceeding, marriage reconciliation is the prospect of the marital couple dismissing their divorce proceeding and getting back together.

Recent Marriage Reconciliation Results in Kelley Clarke PC PC Firing:

Recently, we had an opportunity to rejoice with a client who achieved marriage reconciliation with his wife and he actually dismissed his divorce petition.  There are no mixed emotions with marriage reconciliation.  We rejoice with our clients and are happy to hear, “You are no longer needed” because we are getting back together.  This recent experience reminded me of the need for us to pray and help facilitate reconciliation whenever possible.  One of the very first topics I discuss with every new client seeking representation in family law is whether marriage reconciliation is possible, whether real effort has been made, and/or whether we can help in that regard.  Not every case is ripe or appropriate for marriage reconciliation.  Thankfully, this blog is focused on those marriages where marriage reconciliation is a possibility that should be encouraged, nurtured, and assisted.

Scripture is helpful in reminding us about the power of the marriage relationship and the desire for it to be a life-long commitment.  Mark 10:9 says “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” I Corinthians 7:15 further illustrates the Lord’s charge as “To the married I give this charge, (not I, but the Lord): the wife/husband should not separate from her husband/wife.”  It is terribly unfortunate, divorce will happen in many cases.  In cases where marriage reconciliation may occur, we should rejoice and look for any pointers that could potentially help in our own marital conflicts.

You might be surprised, but the law (like Scripture) encourages marriage reconciliation.  In many States, there are statutory waiting periods prior to the Courts being able to grant a divorce.  The reason is the Court wants to encourage the parties to reconcile and the waiting time is necessary to give them the breathing space in order to do so.  In Texas, the Family Code requires the Family Courts to grant a divorce “[I]f the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.” Likely before the Court grants a divorce, the Court will also ask a party under oath whether there are any changes of reconciliation.  The Courts believe (just like Scripture) that marriage reconciliation is best for marital discord.

Helpful Guideposts for Possible Reconciliation Efforts:

Over the years, I have noticed a few important guideposts for couples that are able to reconcile.  I pray that this finds fertile soil in your heart as you read this:

  • Reconciliation requires a focus on Christ first. It’s not about you or him/her.  Couples that are able to recognize that both have baggage, sin, and brokenness that they are able and willing to set aside to focus on Christ as the center of their marriage, have a higher likelihood of being able to reconcile.
  • Reconciliation takes a willing and forgiving heart by both parties. Very few cases result in true and sustaining reconciliation if both spouses are not absolutely committed to reconciliation.  Reconciliation requires hard work, self-examination, and repeated requests for genuine forgiveness and acceptance by both spouses.
  • Reconciliation takes time. Very few (if any) family crisis cases result in spontaneous reconciliation.  Instead, reconciliation requires mutual effort, and can take months or even years.  Though we live in a pop culture environment where every difficulty can be resolved in 30 minutes to an hour with commercials, true marital reconciliation takes substantial time.  Perhaps, your reconciliation will require baby steps (e.g. resolution of side issues, property division, or possession and access schedules with children during separation).  Be open and flexible.  Don’t precondition the amount of time.  Just be committed to working at it.  In the above success story of a marriage that reconciled, the reconciliation took 4 months.
  • Reconciliation calls for sacrifice (of almost everything). After your relationship with the Lord, your spouse should be your number one priority.  If you truly believe this principle, everything is up on the potential chopping block during the reconciliation process.  This type of sacrifice can be emotionally painful, but couples that are willing to sacrifice (and do sacrifice) any stumbling blocks in the path toward reconciliation have a better shot at obtaining reconciliation.

Reconciliation is Worthy of Your Time and Energy:

Gordon B. Hinckley aptly wrote the following “The remedy for most marital stress is not in divorce. It is in repentance and forgiveness, in sincere expressions of charity and service. It is not in separation. It is in simple integrity that leads a man and a woman to square up their shoulders and meet their obligations. It is found in the Golden Rule, a time-honored principle that should first and foremost find expression in marriage.”

There are no magic answers or shortcuts when it comes to reconciliation.  When couples are in the middle of a divorce, there has likely been seeds of marital discord that have taken root for long periods of time.  It is totally understandable that parties wrestling with marital discord pain, betrayal, or any other symptom/cause of the martial separation/divorce filing to struggle with this concept.

At Kelley Clarke PC we are committed to your soul, heart, and the process of marriage reconciliation whenever possible.  We will walk with you through this process, cry with you, encourage you, and help you.  We can  take action to reach reconciliation with things like mediation.  We can suggest ways to keep your marriage strong before it reaches divorce.  But, our ultimate hope at KC when dealing with family crisis, is to hear those words “you’re fired” because of a reconciled marriage and our legal services are no longer needed.