It is not an exaggeration to say that our country and the world are more concerned with actual survival now than probably anytime in the past 100 years. The coronavirus caught most of the world by surprise and what we have seen as a result is extreme measures taken to prevent illness and decrease the likelihood of deaths occurring on a widespread scale. It is difficult to put into context the amount of destruction this virus is done in terms of lives lost and chaos created in our world. Whenever the virus is gone for good or at least minimized in its role in our everyday lives, we can look back and honestly say that yes, we have survived the coronavirus.
Until then, our focus will be on Living our lives the best we can And ensuring that our children can lead consistent and stable lives despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus. Even in marriages that are doing well, it is a challenge to strengthen a relationship and parent. There are ways that we can minimize the impact of the coronavirus on our household. Still, overall, the reality is that whether we want the virus to affect us or not is primarily out of our control. If we wish to be In the same boat as our neighbors when it comes to the virus is not up to us. To an extent, we are all in this together; at the end of the virus, the pandemic will occur at roughly the same time for each of us.
With that said, if your marriage is struggling right now and you are either separated or going through a divorce, and then you are in an unenviable situation. I don't say this because I don't believe I don't think so that you can get out of the case for that this experience will forever scar your life. However, if you have to go through a significant life change when it is not easy to plan for the future, you require good advice and perspective on how to proceed from here.
Do your best to gain some perspective on your situation.
Filing for divorce, in and of itself, is not difficult. It doesn't take a lot of time, nor does it take a lot of effort. In the old days, you would need to draft an original petition for divorce by hand and then marched down to the courthouse to file your divorce. Whereas, now all you have to do is good, wise a form you can find online and then point your paperwork through your county or district clerk's website. There are fees associated with making this, but the effort you need to file a divorce is minimal.
However, you do not want to file a minimal divorce. Suppose you are choosing to go through with a divorce during this time. You need to take a look at your situation and do your best to think objectively. There is no room for error during this time, and you want to set yourself up for a successful transition out of this pandemic once we can emerge. Do not expect that a minimal effort will be able to garner you a great deal of success in your divorce.
The best way that I can recommend to you to gain perspective on your situation Is to take a step back and make a list of where you are right now in your life. You can do this on an old-fashioned legal pad, or it can get on your computer or cell phone and type out a list. Either way, you should jot down some notes on subjects relating to your children, your marriage, your home, your debts, your job stability, an essential list of your personal property, and any other issue that you believe will be relevant in your divorce. When you are done, you can sit and look and assess your situation for what it is.
Once you have to make a list of where your life stands, at least on paper, you will be able to give yourself an honest assessment of whether or not you need to be going through a divorce right now. If you are separated from your spouse, then you need to understand that you are still married. Texas does not have a legal separation written into its family code. This means that if you and your spouse continue to live apart but never go through the divorce process, you will legally be married into the future. I have met with more than one person in my life as an attorney who has been divorced in their mind from their spouse for 20 or 30 years, but in reality, they are merely physically separated.
Once you assess your situation based on its realities and determine whether or not your marriage is one that you would like to salvage or can salvage, then it is time to determine whether or not you need to take the next step from separation to divorce. While it may feel like this is not that dramatic of a jump, I can assure you that it is. Although you and your spouse are not living together, a marriage bond combines emotional, financial, legal, and physical elements. The physical bond between your spouse may be broken while you're separated, but the other three bonds still exist. By filing for divorce, you attempt to end all the bonds that hold together with you and your spouse.
Do you need to hire an attorney for your divorce? Or can you go it alone?
This is the big question you need to ask yourself once you have done a self-assessment of your life and determined that your separation from your spouse needs to turn into a divorce from them. It is not a requirement in Texas for you to have an attorney representing you in your divorce. You can legally file for and complete divorce from your spouse without an attorney's representation. However, as it is with many things in life, the devil is in the details of a divorce.
In gaining a perspective on your divorce, you need to ask yourself whether or not you will be able to adequately represent your interests in a divorce, considering your current circumstances. For the most part, I know people do not have the time necessary to balance working, taking care of their family, and representing themselves in a divorce. The reality of your situation is that each of those roles that you play is a full-time job. By representing yourself in a divorce, you are necessarily taking away from performing these other tasks.
This is the most reasonable question to ask regarding whether or not you need to hire an attorney for your divorce. If you do not have the time to represent your interests adequately, you need to hire a lawyer. A divorce is not just filing paperwork and getting a judge to sign your final decree of divorce. A divorce cannon likely will be hard work in negotiation, displaying patience towards your spouse and ensuring that your interests are represented.
And the general answer that I give to people regarding whether or not their case requires an attorney's representation Is if you have kids or don't have kids, if you have a lot of assets and debts, then I would recommend you hire a family law attorney. Hiring an attorney is a short-term investment for a long-term benefit. Yes, hiring an attorney is not always inexpensive. However, most family law attorneys offer highly competitive pricing, and they can be willing to work with you on payment if your circumstances merit such consideration.
Handling the ups and downs of a divorce during the Coronavirus pandemic
Getting back to my original piece of divorce advice, let's get some perspective on how long divorce is likely to last. The law in Texas is that your divorce will take a mammal of 60 days to complete. That means from the day that your divorce is filed until the day a judge can sign your final decree of divorce, a minimum of 60 days must have passed. There are exceptions to this rule if there is a continued risk of family violence in the home, but for the most part, a divorce will take at least 60 days to complete.
It would help if you did not plan on your divorce being over with any faster than this that in mind. Even if you and your spouse see completely eye to eye on the issues in your case and you have already come up with the divorce terms that she would like to include in your final decree of divorce, a court will not grant you divorce any faster than 60 days. This is obviously on the short end of things and does not consider the specific factors of your divorce and how willing and able you and your spouse are to negotiate the terms of your case with one another.
You need to know that your divorce can take more than two months to complete as far as a reality check. It would be a rare divorce that could be completed in as few as 60 days. This doesn't mean that you and your spouse will spend the length of your divorce fighting every single day, but the logistics of attending mediation, negotiating in between, and getting past any difficult negotiation points within the case can be complex. It would help if you did not assume that you and your spouse would negotiate your settlement with these. This is especially true if you and your spouse have never discussed the subject of divorce.
Closing thoughts on getting through your divorce during the coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is one where we have all had to make adjustments on the fly to how we live and how we approach seemingly everyday tasks and responsibilities. While none of us know when this pandemic will come to an end, what we do know is that it will look at some point. If you choose to go through a divorce during this period or even separate from your spouse, you should know ahead of time about the difficulties you are taking on.
However, you can minimize the challenges and difficulties of divorce by planning and seeking the counseling perspective of persons who have been there before. Having a family law attorney experienced in all facets of a divorce is a good starting point. Combining the advocacy of an attorney with a sound support system at home is a great combination to have at your disposal. At a certain point, everything else depends on you your spouse's willingness to work together to complete your divorce and minimize the disruption Lives of you and your family during this time.
Questions about getting a divorce or becoming separated during the Coronavirus pandemic? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained 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 allow you to ask questions and obtain a good perspective on your particular circumstances. We appreciate your desire to spend part of your day with us here on our blog, and we hope you will join us again here tomorrow as we post unique content regarding Texas family law.