Divorce and Coronavirus: Does it Make Sense to Wait?

It seems like all we’ve been doing for the past eight months is waiting. We have been waiting for the worst of the current virus pandemic to be behind us. We’ve been waiting for positive news to hear on television or to read on the computer. We had been waiting for a vaccine to help put this whole episode behind us into move on. Waiting, waiting, waiting, all of us have become experts on staying whether we like it or not. Some areas of our lives are easier than others to wait on.

One of those areas that we in the world of Texas family law have observed to not seen much waiting to go on in is filing for divorce. Anecdotally, divorce rates appear to have increased in our area and across the country since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. While those increases have not been steady, they have seen somewhat rapid gains during the past few months. Towards the beginning of the pandemic in many people, we’re waiting to see what would happen next as far as the virus was concerned. We didn’t know much about the virus and could not project into the future what sort of safeguards we would need to take with our health and with our country overall.

As a result, we have seen local, state, and federal government actions intended to curb the spread of the virus. I suppose that only time will tell how effective each of those methods has been. Overall, however, the legal field has sustained a great deal of waiting due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the government-led shutdown centered around social distancing. We saw most family law courts closed immediately after the outset of the pandemic, only to see gradual re-openings over the summer and into the fall. Complete shutdowns of public spaces went by the wayside in favor of mandatory mask-wearing. This allowed the courts and the legal system to begin to move after being stuck in the mud for months after March 2020

Even though the courts themselves were closed to the public for much of the pandemic, that did not stop people filing for divorce, the concerns over health and the increased time that we were spending at home caused many people to, apparently, reassess their marriage and determined that a divorce was in their best interest. As such, divorces began to increase in the late spring months and have risen steadily since. There are multiple theories as to why this is, but I think one that is pretty obvious is that our mental health has been harmed as a result of The government-led lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. As a result, none of us are doing as well from a mental health perspective as earlier this year.

When we are not doing well then, we will look for reasons to change the path we’re on. One of those ways to change the direction that we’re in is to look at our relationships with a critical eye. The most crucial relationship that many of us have is our marriage, and if your marriage had not been doing well before the coronavirus, then it is doubtful to be doing well now. There is too much uncertainty, unhappiness, stagnation, and not near enough optimism for us to press forward in relationships that we are not happy with. What we see occurring across the country in Southeast Texas is that people are seeking change through the hiring of divorce attorneys.

With all of that saying, I do not recommend that you hold off on plans to get a divorce simply because of the coronavirus pandemic. What I would like to do for the duration of today’s blog post is to discuss why I do not recommend that you hold off on plans to get a divorce due to this pandemic. These reasons come from my own opinions on the matter and from observations that I have made based on my working with people in Texas family law.

Divorce does not necessarily mean a great deal of contact with other people.

One of the things that this pandemic has caused us to reevaluate is the level of risk we are willing to take on in our daily lives. Before the coronavirus pandemic, there was still a risk of all of us getting sick when we would get up out of bed and go into the real world. The common cold, the flu, and other viruses and bacteria exist sufficient to get any basic on any given day. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of the pandemic, but a new virus has been introduced that is taking up our attention for the time being. At the same time, most of us will probably never get sick from the coronavirus when we’re all captive in the sense that there is a chance that we could be carrying the virus or an opportunity that we could get sick from someone carrying the virus. The decision has been made for us that we should socially distance ourselves as much as possible to avoid illness.

Getting yourself involved in a court case would seem to be a poor way to distance yourself socially. After all: doesn’t filing for divorce mean that you and your spouse will end up spending a great deal of time in a courthouse around a lot of strangers? Isn’t that the very thing that we have been told time and time and time again is opposed to our health and contrary to public health goals? The reality is that filing for divorce in Texas does not mean that you will be spending a lot of time with people you don’t know in closed quarters.

On the contrary, getting divorced in Texas is a fairly straightforward process that requires minimal, if any, personal interaction with people outside of your home. Consider that law offices such as ours conduct informational interviews with potential clients via video or over the phone. Even before the pandemic, our office was able to work with people who didn’t even live in the United States by utilizing technology to our advantage. We can even go over a contract with you and obtain your signature and other information electronically. Thus, signing up with an experienced family law attorney like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is now easier done than ever before.

Gone also are the days when you and your spouse need to attend family court hearings on various matters related to your case. Instead, you and your spouse may even be able to participate in a virtual mediation session with your attorney to help each of you social distance even more. Virtual mediation sessions may be a way of the future even once the pandemic passes by. It is an effective way for you to work with your attorney and an experienced mediator to help you resolve issues in your case without ever having to leave your home. While many people prefer the personal interactions involved in a face-to-face mediation under the circumstances we’re in right now, virtual mediation helps you keep your case moving and decreases the chances of passing the virus between persons.

Even a prove-up hearing, the final hearing in a divorce case, can frequently be done virtually rather than having to go in for a short hearing with the judge. This is honestly something that I could see sticking around even after the pandemic is God-given; how it can be a rather significant time commitment for people to go downtown for a short 5 minute hearing with the judge. They prove appearing is an opportunity for the judge to meet you face-to-face to review your final decree of divorce. Doing so via zoom can help eliminate needless trips to the courthouse and can also help to keep people safe.

The circumstances in your marriage will not change if you wait and do nothing.

If you are considering waiting on filing for divorce, do too the idea that do you believe that the time at home will increase the chances of a reconciliation between you and your spouse? Then I would recommend that you all work diligently towards accomplishing that goal. The goal you have must be precise, has a time limit, and be written down. Unless all of these factors are in play, it is unlikely that you will accomplish your goal. As such, I recommend that you and your spells take active measures to improve your marriage if your goal is not to get a divorce.

If you choose not to take an active and involved role in reconciling with your spouse, it is doubtful that reconciliation will occur. Any delay in filing for divorce will only be wasting time and delaying the inevitable. You can hope all day and all night that your marriage will improve, but no good will have come from waiting unless actual steps are taken to strengthen the relationship.

By waiting, you will have only added to the stagnation of your life during this pandemic. If you have been waiting to file for divorce and are concerned about the state of her marriage, then you should either seek counseling, work directly with your spouse to communicate your problems with one another, or file for divorce. Things in life generally do not stay the same. Things are either progressing or regressing. Keep that in mind as you make decisions about how to proceed with your marriage.

Your post-pandemic or post-divorce life will not get here any sooner when you delay your divorce.

We can all rationalize our way out of doing certain things, but one thing I will note is that the changes you seek in your personal life or an end to the pandemic are not related. If you try and delay your divorce, that will not help you achieve any of the goals you have for your life; in the meantime, by the same token, there is no telling when the brunt of this pandemic will end, and as a result, You cannot expect that any of these changes that you are seeking will occur any easier after the pandemic is gone.

The only things we have direct control over are our attitudes and our steps to better ourselves. If you have concluded that a divorce is what you need to put yourself in a better state of mind and what is best for your children, you should move towards getting a divorce. There is one hard way to get a divorce: filing your divorce and proceeding with the case. While some of the divorce circumstances have changed due to the pandemic, the overall process has not. If you are having trouble getting your chance off the ground and need some encouragement or guidance, I would recommend you speak to an experienced family law attorney to learn the first steps in the process.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog postcontact 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 an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services provided to our clients by our attorneys and staff.

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