Getting a divorce is never easy. From the process itself to the stress anxiety at places on your life to the emotional difficulties of separating yourself from your spouse, no one who goes through a divorce would tell you that the process was easy. For every advertisement you see online for quick and easy divorces, I could tell you stories about divorces that range anywhere from the run of the mill to the complex, which will make you think twice about actually filing for divorce.
Does that mean that you should hold off on getting a divorce? Not necessarily. The decision to get a divorce is one that you need to make yourself. While there may be many considerations at play in your life that may indicate that you need a divorce, the bottom line is that you are the person who has to live with the consequences of your actions. Your mother, your father, or your best friend may be able to offer you advice but never actually have to live with the day-to-day consequences of either filing or not filing for divorce. For this reason, you need to do some thinking on your own about whether or not a divorce is in your best interests and the best interests of your children.
You need to perform an honest assessment of your circumstances to determine what is in your best interests at this time. Certainly, if I were someone moving towards a divorce, I would consider whether or not it is possible for reconciliation in your marriage to occur. If you and your spouse had never attempted to work towards a resolution of your problems in marriage or even to attend counseling or therapy, then you may want to tap the brakes on going full steam ahead into a divorce and inquire as to whether or not your spouse would be willing to attend counseling with you.
If they voice a willingness to work with you on attending counseling, then that may be a step you all wish to take before considering an outright divorce. On the other hand, if you have already attended counseling without success or your spouse has told you that they do not want to participate in counseling, you probably have your answer. My point is that jumping into a divorce without exhausting every resource available towards reconciliation would seem to be a bad choice, in my opinion. Simply seeing your spouse displaying a willingness to work on your problems together may cause you to view them in a completely new light.
If you need resources for counseling or therapy options in your area, then you could consider reaching out to your health insurance provider, the human resources department at work, you are a church, and even social media. These are all resources that could point you towards help for your family in both the short and long term. Depending upon the specific problems in your marriage, you all may need ongoing counseling more than simply counseling done over a month or two. Being able to have a game plan and act intentionally towards achieving the goals of that game plan can go a long way towards helping rejuvenate and replenish your marriage.
Are there any situations that require an immediate exit in your marriage? On the other hand, certain situations require immediate consideration for an exit versus a steady approach at attempts to reconcile. The most immediate type of situation that warrants a speedy exit is if your spouse is abusing you or your child. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the coronavirus quarantines in a stay-at-home order has been that domestic violence and child abuse have increased. This is a sobering thought even as deaths due to the pandemic increase overall.
Being forced to stay at home with an abusive spouse or a parent is a dangerous, life-or-death situation for some families. It is also not appropriate to think of how your situation doesn’t rise to that level and that the abuse is not that significant. From what I have personally seen in families that have been affected by domestic violets the fact is that families see violence escalate quite quickly. Where the abuse was something minor before, it is now a possibility that it could get much worse at the drop of a hat.
As a result, you may be in a position where a decision has to be made sooner rather than later about leaving home to protect yourself and your family. I see this as a time for you to decide about your divorce and develop a plan to leave the house safely. Developing a safety plan along with your children and extended family is a great idea. Simply motivating yourself to leave home in the event of future abuse is not sufficient. You need to develop a plan for you and your family to follow the instant something goes wrong. Sometimes you only have a few seconds to make a decision, and you need to have worked through a plan with your family.
For instance, do you have a place to stay in the event of a hasty exit? Do you have clothing, emergency money, important documents, and other paperwork ready to go if you must leave your home? If you leave home, you need to assume that you will not be able to regain access. For that reason, it may be wise to photograph the interior of the home to inventory items for your divorce likewise; if you have documents in file cabinets or folders at home, you may want to make copies or scan and email copies to yourself if you will need them in the future. In contrast, you may regain access to the home at some point that may not be until after your spouse has had an opportunity to dispose of documents that may have been helpful to you.
Either way, you need to have a plan in place because amid abuse, you will likely not be in a great frame of mind to the point where you will come up with solutions for yourself. Rather, I would take this opportunity to develop a plan and inform people that you trust your plan. It is not a bad idea to begin to meet with attorneys in other people that can assist you if a divorce becomes a real possibility for you and your family.
Why do people remain in bad marriages?
This is the question that I am confronted with frequently. Being a family law attorney, I have the duty and privilege to help many families in our area, and oftentimes I see husbands and wives remaining in bad marriages for any number of reasons. You may find yourself clinging to hope of reconciliation or improvement in the quality of your marriage despite there not being a great deal of reason for optimism. Beyond mere optimism, you need to have concrete reasons why you believe that your marriage has a chance to be reconciled. Otherwise, without hope of reconciliation and concrete reasons for believing this will occur, that is reasonable to expect and plan for a divorce.
First, I think most people generally hope for the best and want to avoid major changes in their lives and their children. While a marriage may be unfulfilling or even toxic, some people view marriage as the devil they know versus the devil they don’t, namely getting a divorce. For that reason, you may choose to stay in a marriage that you know to be unfulfilling or even dangerous to some extent. This doesn’t make you a bad person, but it shows that you are prone to making short-term decisions rather than long-term.
Second, I have seen spouses, notably wives, mega the decision to remain in a marriage for what amounts to financial reasons. This doesn’t mean that you would be money-grubbing or focused purely on finances, but it does mean that you have legitimate concerns for your financial well-being if you were to get a divorce. You could view this as a golden handcuffs type situation. The potential fallout of a divorce may find you with little to no income, no job experience, and little prospect for financial success in the short term or long term. For that reason, you may choose to stick it out in a failing marriage rather than take the risk of getting a divorce.
Imagine you are a spouse who’s been married to your husband or wife for 20 years, if not longer. During that marriage, you have never worked, do not have a college education, and have no job skills to speak of other than taking care of the home and your children. While these are notable skills to possess, they don’t necessarily translate well to the working world. This is an intimidating position to be in, and it would be understandable, at least in the short term, to be of the mind that staying in a marriage like this there’s preferable to taking the risk of getting a divorce.
Not only would you have to confront concerns regarding replenishing your household income after divorce potentially, but you risk losing retirement benefits, health insurance, and tuition money for your children’s education. All of these are reasons enough for many people to remain in marriages that have long since passed their point of sustainability. If you find yourself in a marriage like this, you need to decide whether or not your best interests are served by being married. This is on top of the emotional, spiritual, and other considerations regarding a divorce or marriage.
Specific considerations regarding the divorce from a narcissist
I’ll begin by telling you that I am not an expert in personality disorders, psychology, or mental health; if you want an actual diagnosis regarding a condition suffered by you or a loved one, I will reach out to an appropriate source of information regarding this type of condition. I am offering these opinions as an attorney who has seen and represented many people who have gone through divorces. Of those people who have gotten divorced, some of them have appeared to care more about themselves than any other person in the case, including their children. Getting a divorce from this type of person can prove to be especially difficult because they are difficult to negotiate with and has personality traits that are difficult to work with throughout the process.
To start with, getting a divorce from a narcissist may be more difficult than getting a divorce from a typical person because if your spouse is a narcissist, they are likely only viewing your buy from their perspective. Any difficulties that have become a part of the marriage are likely to be viewed as your fault, and the negative aspects of the marriage are likely to be viewed as only occurring to them. Their problems in their contributions to the fall of your marriage or likely not to be considered all that heavily.
This means that they may end up filing for divorce without consulting you first or even considering what the divorce means for you in the future. Your narcissistic spouse may have spent a great deal of time preparing for their exit from your relationship and family but have spent very little time considering the impacts on you or your children. This can be one of the more frustrating aspects of an entire case, given that narcissists may care about themselves more than they even care about their kids.
If you are married to a narcissist, you need to come to terms with the fact that they will take steps that will stand to benefit them but will put you and your children in a second and third position. For instance, they may withdraw money from your bank account to open up an account with which you do not know. This can put the unit up a position as far as paying for a mortgage, groceries, and any other household expense that you rely upon your spouse for. They may plan on sending you money or ensuring that the kids are taken care of in the future, but As for now, you all may be out in the cold as far as money is concerned.
Next, your narcissistic spouse may have developed a strategy for your divorce long before getting the divorce. You may find that your spouse has planned out a very intricate plan for their escape from your life to the extent that the steps they are taken went undetected. While you are still trying to get over the emotional fallout from the divorce being filed, he or you may have well moved on physically and emotionally. This can be difficult for some people to feel like they have been left behind while their spouse is out living a brand new life.
Rather than be made to feel this way for an extended period, my recommendation would be to begin to plan your divorce as soon as you received those divorce papers. Remember that your spouse is already moving on from you and that you should take the necessary steps to solidify your relationship with your kids, hire an attorney and begin to push back on the divorce that has been filed against you. This does not mean to do anything unethical or unreasonable, but it does mean that you need to be aware that a divorce does not have to be a 1 sided affair where you are left on the defensive for the entirety of the case.
Even still, most divorces wind up with people acting in ways that are self-serving and self-interested. That’s the trouble with divorce: when a divorce is filed, It makes a business transaction out of a marriage. While this may seem harsh or cold, it is the reality that you will find yourself in. As a result, you should prepare yourself and your family for months ahead by working with an experienced family law attorney who can help you manage your expectations, develop a strong game plan and work to achieve whatever goals you have for your case.
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 a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family may be impacted by a divorce or child custody case in Texas.