As a Texas attorney with two decades of experience exclusively in family law, I am always on the lookout for things that can positively impact the lives of my clients as they go through the painful process of divorce. And it's not often that I can find positive impact from the actions of the Texas Legislature.
But recently, the "Distinguished Gentlepersons" up in Austin got something right. A small change to the Texas Family Code caught my attention, and I believe it will greatly improve the timely relief of temporary matters in divorce litigation. For those curious about such matters, here are the details of this new provision and what I believe will be the positive impact it will have for couples navigating the challenging waters of divorce in Texas.
The New Provision:
With the passage of Texas House Bill 2671, beginning September 1, 2023, the Texas Family Code will now include § 105.001(a-1), which addresses Temporary Orders in family law matters. This newly added subsection offers a solution to a common problem faced by divorcing couples: the delay in obtaining temporary relief due to referrals to mediation.
Before this change, when a court referred a divorce case to mediation and a motion for a temporary order was pending, the initial hearing on that motion could be postponed to a later date (sometimes a much later date of 60 days or more), leading to unnecessary delays in resolving urgent matters. However, the new provision brings an essential safeguard into play.
Under § 105.001(a-1), if the court, on its own motion, refers a suit for mediation where a motion for a temporary order is pending, the court cannot postpone the initial hearing on that motion beyond the 30th day after the original hearing date was set. This means that once a motion for temporary relief is filed, the court must address the matter and hold the initial hearing within 30 days.
Enhancing Timely Relief:
The implications of this change may not seem profound to most, but I believe it will mean the world of difference to people who are suffering in untenable domestic situations that need quick relief . Divorce cases often involve pressing issues such as child custody, temporary support, and property matters. Couples require swift resolution to these matters to maintain stability during the divorce process. By mandating an initial hearing within 30 days of filing the motion, this new provision ensures that temporary matters are addressed promptly.
Moreover, the change promotes efficient case management and streamlines the divorce process for both parties and the court. Timely resolution of temporary matters can alleviate stress and uncertainty, allowing individuals to focus on moving forward with their lives.
The addition of 105.001(a-1) to the Texas Family Code marks a small but significant step forward in enhancing timely relief of temporary matters in divorce litigation. As a family law attorney, I believe this change will have a positive impact on divorcing couples, offering them the assurance that urgent issues will be addressed promptly. Moreover, the provision reflects a commitment to efficient case management and the well-being of those navigating the complexities of divorce.
Attorney Sean Y. Palmer has over 20 years of legal experience as a Texas Attorney and over 25 years as a Qualified Mediator in civil, family and CPS cases. Palmer practices exclusively in the area Family Law and handles Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Adoptions, and other Family Law Litigation cases. He represents clients throughout the greater Houston Galveston area, including: Clear Lake, NASA, Webster, Friendswood, Seabrook, League City, Galveston, Texas City, Dickinson, La Porte, La Marque, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, Kemah, Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park, Harris County, and Galveston County, Texas.
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