The situation with the coronavirus seems to change daily. Just think about what we believed about the virus in February and March and what we believe and know about it now. The guidance that we receive changes quite a bit, and our ability to understand what is current and not always the best. From what I can tell, specific recommendations have been consistent from the beginning, and those will remain in place until the end of the pandemic. Otherwise, it's anyone's guess what will happen with the course of this virus and our response to it over time.
One of the side effects of our stay-at-home orders has been a trend towards increasing divorce rates in our country and across the world. I think the primary cause of this increase in the divorce rate has been people spending more time at home with their spouses than perhaps ever before. Problems in marriages that were easier to paper overdue to our busy lives are more challenging to do in an error where we spend a great deal of time at home. As a result of this trend of spending more time at home, we are faced with more contact with our spouses, and fault lines in the relationships can be revealed much easier.
As discussed in another blog post about divorce after the COVID-19 pandemic began, it is a profoundly personal decision whether or not you should get a divorce. To rush into a decision like this would be foolhardy. Doing the work that we do here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we frequently run into people who seemed to consider divorce not to be that big of a deal. This is true whether or not folks have children or are childless. The simple truth is that some people do not consider divorce all that important these days simply because more and more people are getting them.
I want to take some time with you today to talk about why divorce is a big deal. It may sound like I am recommending or advising you not to get a divorce if your plan is. You know your circumstances much better than I do. Certain circumstances out there justify your wanting to get a divorce after the worst of his pandemic subsides. Hopefully, with better treatments and a vaccine shortly, the worst of the pandemic will be behind us. Well, I am not equipped to give medical advice or prognosis on the path of this pandemic can tell you that with time people generally become less fearful over any situation, even a pandemic.
Divorce used to be very difficult to get through a court. This is because most states in our country maintained that only spouses who asserted fault grounds for divorce could get a divorce. Fault grounds are specific, statutorily listed reasons why a family court judge could grant a divorce. While you may not be familiar with the term fault grounds, you are undoubtedly familiar with what all grounds are: adultery, abuse, abandonment, and financial improprieties. Decades ago, the only way to get a divorce in Texas and most other states was to tell a judge that one of these scenarios is playing out in your home.
Somewhere along the line, no-fault divorces became introduced in states beginning in the 1960s. From there, it was only a matter of time before legislatures across the country started to adopt the no-fault divorce. Unsurprisingly, as more states adopted these no-fault divorces, the rate of divorce in our country increased a great deal. A simple Google search will reveal that upwards of 1/2 of marriages in our country end in divorce. This is a sobering thought, but when you break it down on the granule level, certain things can predispose a married couple towards getting a divorce.
For instance, the better educated a married couple is, the less likely a divorce is expected. The more similar the spouse's incomes are, the less likely a divorce is expected to occur. On top of that, you can look to some softer factors to indicate whether or not you are young; marriage may be more likely to end in divorce than others. Generally speaking, I have found that spouses who agree on a few different subjects are very unlikely to get a divorce. Let's walk through some of those subjects right now.
if you and your spouse agree on these subjects, then you are far less likely to get divorced
First and foremost, if you and your spouse agree on how to treat one another's families, then you will be more likely to have a happy marriage. While much of marriage is composed of time for you, your spouse, and your children to build a life together, the reality of the situation is that each of your families will play a role in your marriage. For some families, that role is more significant than others. Sometimes families have better boundaries set up to keep people from overstepping their bounds and misbehaving. Every family is different.
Since every family is different and you can never honestly know how your spouse’s family will interact with you and your spouse in your marriage, it is best to discuss how each of you will relate to one another's families. For example, suppose you know that your mother tends to be a bit pushy in bossy when it comes to planning family events. In that case, it may be wise for you to discuss this early on with your spouse and work to create appropriate boundaries to ensure that your mother's character trait does not negatively impact your marriage. Some spouses are willing to have this conversation instead of proper limits. Some spouses don't see any issue with boundary-pushing by their families, which can create problems in the marriage.
If you are the type of person who has problems standing up to your family and a spouse who is very outspoken about issues when it comes to family relationships, you may have a potential problem on your hands. It is better to solve these issues at the beginning of your marriage than to let them fester. Lainie's open wounds to decay over time can and often does lead to divorce. If you and your spouse are still spending a lot of time at home together, maybe you can take this opportunity to talk to one another openly and honestly about problems with each other’s families. This may be able to go a long way towards avoiding the divorce as we head into 2021.
Next, if you have not already done so, I would recommend that you and your spouse take any opportunities you have early in your marriage to determine your positions surrounding whether or not to have children. I would expect that most married people would have had this discussion before tying the knot, but if you and your spouse have not done so, then it will be wise to do so at the beginning of your marriage. The positions of different people on having kids can be quite different. You do not want to be surprised with your spouse either wanting or not wanting to have children later on in life.
For example, it may surprise you to learn that your spouse is dead set against having kids. While they may have specific and justifiable reasons for not wanting to have children, if you desperately want to have kids, then, needless to say, this could be a potential breaking point in your marriage. The best time to have had this discussion would have been six months before you got married, but the next best time to have this discussion is right now.
Yes, it can be uncomfortable to have with someone but keep in mind that this is the spouse we are talking about. If you are not comfortable having this discussion with your spouse and I can tell you that there are many more uncomfortable discussions that you will dread having with them in the future. It is worthwhile to determine whether or not you have a comfort zone and level of trust in one another for topics such as these.
3rd, I would point to the agreement on religious practices as another area where disagreement can lead to divorce. If you and your spouse are separate religions, this may not seem like a big deal, and often it isn't; however, if either one of you is devout in your particular faith back in causes some problems in the marriage, especially if you choose to have children.
I have seen more than a handful of people going through divorce have problems agreeing on what faith to raise their children and whether or not it is appropriate for a child to be exposed to a different religious upbringing. Some families can thread the needle and raise their children and wildly divergent faiths. Still, for most families I have come into contact with, having different faith backgrounds can often lead to marital and familial difficulties.
Does this mean that I am cautioning you against getting married to someone whose faith beliefs or other positions don't always align with yours precisely? Of course not. For as many people as there are in our state in our country, there are as many different types of marriages that work. If your wedding is based on trust and communication, and mutual respect, then there are almost no problems that your marriage cannot overcome.
I would offer you that the above scenarios often do lead to disagreements and problems for those who are newly married. Whether you are newly married or involved in a marriage of many years, having discussions on these subjects can benefit you in your family a great deal. Seeking outside intervention as far as counseling or therapy can help keep these discussions off the ground if nothing else. Sometimes having an outsider speak into your marriage can be beneficial, even if it feels a little awkward at first. Any steps you can take to mitigate the risk of divorce are worth it, in my opinion.
Do you need to get a divorce?
Once we get past the issues of why a married couple is more likely to get a divorce, we have to tackle whether or not you need to file for divorce from your spouse. This is a very personal question that is impossible for me to answer in any blog post, having never met you personally.
The best that I can do is present you with, if your circumstance, better justifies your filing for divorce now or at any other time. The reality of your situation is that it is not altogether dissimilar from most any additional time; yes, we have not lived most of our lives under a pandemic in there are health concerns and other concerns that are unique to this time that you may not have been able to foresee and will hopefully never experience again.
However, the courts are operational, and you can get a divorce simply by filing as such. Before you work to interview and hire an attorney, file for divorce, and spend the time, money, and effort that it takes to get divorced, I recommend that you do some serious thinking and approach your circumstances as objectively and unemotionally as possible. If you can do so and have a strong indication that a divorce is necessary and that is the direction you should move.
First of all, I would figure out whether or not you are at risk of harm by remaining in your marriage. Unfortunately, one of the byproducts of the government-led shutdowns and stay-at-home orders has been an increase in domestic violence cases occurring in our country and around the world. Simply being present with your spouse in a closed environment with no outlets for your anger and frustration elsewhere has led to disaster regarding interpersonal violence within the family.
This would be the first concern I would have if I were you and contemplating divorce. Are you and your children at risk of harm? Keep in mind that if your children are not in school in our learning remotely at this time, then one of the avenues for your children, too, he kept safe is that their teachers often are one of the first lines of defense towards alerting authorities towards abuse or neglect. If you have no outlets for keeping yourself safe and your children cannot be monitored and protected in some way by their teachers, then you are at a point where divorce and a move may be necessary.
Otherwise, I would consider the circumstances of your life and whether or not you're in the best place to get a divorce from a financial and relational perspective. First of all, you need to understand that divorce is not as expensive, most likely as others make it out to be, but it does cost money to hire an attorney in file four and proceed with a divorce. Do you have the money to pay for these costs, or can you access the credit necessary to do so? If not, then your divorce may not get very far.
The other consideration that I would give is to look at your divorce from the perspective of whether or not it needs to occur. The most you can tell yourself that you cannot continue in this marriage, then a divorce probably isn't necessary. A feeling that you could go either way on the subject of divorce does not mean that you should get divorced. It does mean that you should do some serious thinking about how to improve the trajectory of your marriage so that a divorce is not necessary and does not become required in the future.
Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post; please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are free of charge and can go a long way towards helping you learn more about your circumstances, the world of Texas family law, and the services that our office provides to every one of our clients.