As the summer months drew to a close and fall came upon us, it became apparent that the trend in the Houston area regarding the coronavirus was that fewer people were becoming ill. The virus was at least temporarily getting under control. This isn’t just my opinion; you can look at the way health experts in the Texas Medical Center have gauged community transmission he and hospitalizations in addition to positive test trends. After a summer where there was a lot of bad news with the coronavirus in Southeast Texas, we saw a great deal of good news come over the past few months as we now close out the fall season. No matter what your opinion is on the pandemic, the government’s steps to limit the spread of the virus, and other aspects of this situation, I think we can all be happy about the progress made.
From the outset of the pandemic, one of the things that had changed for us the most was that the local government ordered us to stay home and safe. Whether or not these methods of attacking the virus will prove successful is a different question. What we do know is that all of our lives were changed to 1 degree or another as a result of these stay-at-home orders. Instead of going to work, going to restaurants, sporting events, and other locations, the vast majority of us spent more time than ever at home. Most of us who lead somewhat busy lives may have been happy, in some ways, to have more time at home and to see our lives slow down.
However, as the months rolled along and orders to remain home persisted, I think a certain degree of fatigue set in where people were less content than before to strictly adhere to stay-at-home demands and things of that nature. One of the unintended side effects of staying home for long periods was that people involved in marriages that have problems came face to face with the challenges of those relationships daily. Those challenges could either be worsened or overcome due to the increased time we will spend at home.
The coronavirus could have strengthened your marriage. I’m at home presented you all with ample opportunity to communicate more frequently about your problems and present you with the time necessary to try and improve a newer relationship. On the other hand, if you did not have a concrete plan for bettering your marriage and instead put off having these difficult conversations with your spouse as you had been up until the beginning of the pandemic, you likely did not see your marriage improved one bit. Keep in mind that relationships don’t stay the same over long periods. Our relationships with one another are either improving or getting worse.
So, as we head into our 9th month of the pandemic it indeed is the case that the time spent at home could have either shown itself to be a positive for you and your spouse or something of a negative. Suppose your marriage with problems has now turned into a marriage headed towards divorce. In that case, you need to begin to act intentionally regarding the changing circumstances and dynamics of your wedding and family life. Instead of sitting idly by and letting the divorce happen to you, you should take concrete steps toward learning about divorce after this period of quarantine and figuring out how to respond to the issues of your case.
What should you do after you are served with divorce papers?
This is an immediate question that you asked yourself as soon as the stranger handed you official-looking legal-type documents. Once you found out that a divorce was on your horizon, you had many options before you. The paths of least resistance were to toss the original divorce petition aside and deal with it later or use the paperwork as a coaster on your coffee table. While pushing unpleasant things to the back burner may appeal to some of you, I cannot advise if this is a great idea. Instead, once you are served with divorce papers, you need to ask yourself almost immediately.
The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not you need an attorney to represent you in your divorce. If you were served with process, as if a constable or private process server handed you divorce paperwork, then your spouse has likely hired an attorney. This means that, in all likelihood, you need an attorney, no matter how simple your divorce may seem to you. If your spouse has an attorney, you are at a disadvantage when it comes to procedure, knowledge, and negotiating strength. As such, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney.
If you have children, you should undoubtedly hire an attorney even if your spouse does not yet have one. Issues regarding children can become complex, and when you are trying to negotiate through subject matter related to divorce and your kids, it is best to have someone guiding you in this process. You do not want to make mistakes associated with your children and end up with a visitation schedule or conservatorships rights that are inappropriate for your case. At worst, hiring a family law attorney is a short-term investment that can be a long-term dividend. At best, an attorney can save you a great deal of money, help to ensure that you have a strong relationship with your children after the divorce, and keep you from making many mistakes during the case.
How do you even talk to an attorney?
There are two aspects of this question that I would like to discuss in today’s blogpost. The first involves how do you talk to an attorney during a pandemic? At this stage in the game, people fall into one of several categories regarding their behavior. One group that I have noticed in our area and across the country has seemingly not left their homes other than for essential things over the past nine months and is generally more worried about becoming ill. Those folks are hesitant to be in public and typically expose themselves to the virus, and I suppose others.
On the other hand, those of us take precautions to keep ourselves and our families safe. Still, we are otherwise more comfortable going into public, eating at restaurants, going to church, and doing things of that nature. Weighing risk and reward is something we do daily and have always done. People in this category tend to take precautions but more or less function as usual despite the heightened risks during an era of pandemics. With this backdrop, we can discuss how to consult your divorce with an attorney no matter what camp you fall into.
If you count yourself among those who are taking extra precautions during this time due to a healthy fear of the virus or out of concern for your health or those around you, then you can take solace in knowing that attorneys are using technology to meet with potential clients daily. For instance, the attorneys with our office are happy to meet with you virtually or over the phone to speak to you about your case. We started doing this with the pandemic, but it is instead something we have done for years. Our office is fortunate enough to represent people in the military, Americans working abroad, and people from Texas who live in other states. We are very acclimated and proficient at conducting business with clients in a virtual setting.
On the other hand, our office also handles client consultations in person, as we always have done and will continue to do after the pandemic subsides. Our office takes great pride in maintaining safety for our clients, ourselves, our families, and potential clients such as yourself. Please get in touch with our office today to learn more about how we can help you schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys and how we are taking reasonable steps to keep everyone in our office safe from harm and healthy as we head into 2021.
The second part of the question regarding how you talk to an attorney centers around how to actually speak with a lawyer face to face or virtually about your case. Many of you have never spoken with an attorney in person and think that lawyers use big words, read thick books, and are difficult to converse with. Let me be the first to tell you that he trains with our office are professional and experienced practitioners of family law. Still, I’m very down to earth, easy to talk to an understanding of your circumstances. You do not need to have an in-depth knowledge of family law to speak with one of our attorneys about your case.
Isn’t going into court dangerous right now?
The other major issue that I would think many of you have is regarding the safety of going to a courthouse at the moment. From the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been told to avoid groups of people and especially groups of people in indoor settings. As such, a place like a courthouse would seem to be a difficult spot as far as the transmissibility of an airborne virus. How can you file for divorce and keep yourself safe knowing that a family court visit may be in your feature?
The first thing to keep in mind is that the courts have done everything they can to not only keep their facilities clean but minimize the number of persons who have to come in and out of the courthouse each day. While it is unavoidable in the sense that the courtrooms will have people in them other than you and your attorney, that does not mean that the building itself is as complete as it typically is. Virtual hearings, employees working from home, and staggered hearing settings limit the number of people at the courthouse daily.
Finally, keep in mind that most family law cases, and divorces, in particular, do not have to see the inside of a courtroom as much as you might think. Despite what television and movies have shown us about divorce, the likelihood of your case going to a divorce trial is minimal. The reason for that is that informal settlement negotiation between spouses and mediation are very effective means of limiting the need for litigation in divorce cases. Suppose your main concern about filing for divorce or responding to a divorce in the fall of 2020 is the need to be around many people in a courthouse. In that case, I can tell you that, while there is some chance he will spend time in the courthouse this fall and spring, it is not nearly as the size you probably think that it is. Taking the same steps to protect yourself that you do in your daily life in the courthouse should go a long way towards keeping you safe.
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 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 an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services that our law office can provide to you and your family as clients.