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The Remote Divorce

Amidst the pandemic, we’ve adapted to significant changes. As we approach its end, some adjustments may stay, while others fade away. One such change worth considering is whether divorcing remotely will become a permanent fixture. The pandemic necessitated remote processes for many aspects of life, including legal proceedings. Now, as we reflect on our experiences, we’re evaluating whether remote divorce proceedings are feasible and effective in the long term. As we navigate the transition out of the pandemic, the question remains: can you divorce remotely, and should you?

As far as a change that I can see being permanent, I think we have largely become accustomed to leaning heavily on technology as a means of communication. Much of the interactions we have daily during this pandemic are done on the computer. This should not surprise anyone, given the hesitancy of people to engage with each other physically during the past year. Now that the pandemic seems to be behind us for the most part, we can consider what opportunities there are to utilize technology to our advantage moving forward.

The shift to virtual interactions

The legal system has embraced technology out of necessity, leading to increased efficiency for courts and attorneys through electronic and virtual interactions. Despite initial challenges, I believe that virtual and remote interactions in law will become more common in the future.

For one, scheduling a meeting, hearing, or mediation virtually takes a lot of pressure off each of us from a scheduling perspective. Everyone familiar with Houston traffic can tell you that driving even 15 or 20 miles can take upwards of an hour or more if you must do so during peak travel times in the city. We have all left from home or work to get to a location seemingly hopelessly, only to find that traffic would not cooperate. This not only impacts ourselves but those around us from a scheduling perspective. Now with remote in virtual communication becoming more acceptable, we can cut back on scheduling conflicts like this to a great extent.

On top of that, there are simple time restrictions that go into place when it comes to the length of time you must commit to performing something as straightforward as mediation. Although your mediation may only be a 3 or 4 hour period time, you have to add into that the time necessary to arrive at your location, set up your materials, and get the mediation moving. Being able to perform a mediation from your office saves you a great deal of time. I would imagine that as the pandemic wanes, attorneys and clients will be able to be together rather than appearing virtually themselves. This will make communication simpler, given that you and your attorney would likely be able to be in the same room on most occasions moving forward.

Saving money through remote meetings in family law cases

Another consideration that I think is worth paying attention to as far as a benefit of remote meetings is saving money for family law clients like yourself. Consider that attorneys bill you by the hour. Travel time to hearings, mediations, and trials all count towards their billable hours. This time could have been allocated to work on another client’s case, thus the hours are typically billed to the client. While multiple attorneys attending a hearing or mediation won’t result in billing duplication, travel times are still factored into the costs of legal representation.

With virtual communication becoming more readily accepted in the legal community, you are a client who will save money on paying for your legal representation. I don’t know how much money this stands to save you in a potential divorce or child custody case, but it could end up being substantial if your case requires a great deal of time in court or mediation. With legal costs being a concern for just about every client who has ever filed a case, I can’t imagine that this wouldn’t also be something that would be encouraging to you during this time.

How to begin the divorce process remotely?

As my Gran father sometimes tells me, when I was a kid, all good things and bad things come to an end. On all of our minds, this past year was the terrible thing about the pandemic. It would certainly seem like the pandemic is closer to its end than its beginning. Depending upon when you come across this blog post, the pandemic may have already subsided completely. With that said, we can evaluate what life is like now versus what it was like one year ago. If I had been writing this blog post in May of 2020, no attorney offices were likely to open to the public, much as the courts were not open at that time. Where are things now?

Many, if not most, attorney offices are open for client meetings and consultations with potential new clients like yourself. I can tell you that the Law Office of Bryan Fagan has always maintained a strong virtual presence in being flexible as our clients’ needs change over time. For that reason, we have always done our best to make sure that virtual meetings with clients and consultations over the computer and phone were available. I can tell you that this degree of flexibility is something that we will maintain in the future. It makes sense for you as the client and for us as the attorney’s office.

Remote divorce: a comprehensive solution

However, we also want to know that we believe that a divorce can be work done remotely almost in full. Depending upon what sort of case you have, there is a decent likelihood that you may never have to step foot in court from the beginning of your case until the end. For that reason, being within close range of our office or even the city of Houston is not an absolute necessity. We work with clients regularly whom we have never met in person and who do not live in Houston at all. So, you should know in advance you can proceed with the divorce remotely from beginning to end.

If we’re talking strictly about beginning a divorce through the remote process, you should know that not being able or willing to meet with someone in person should not prevent you from obtaining information and perspective on your case. You should always seek out the advice of multiple attorneys before considering what she should do as far as hiring one. I could not recommend more highly the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. I believe that our attorneys possess a degree of experience and skill in representing people like you in family law cases of all sorts. To me, we have an unmatched degree of experience, knowledge, skill, and customer service that you will not find anywhere else in the Houston area.

With that said, you may find an attorney you feel more comfortable with or who makes sense to you for another reason. It would be best if you also interviewed multiple attorneys to draw out the responses and perspectives of those lawyers. One of the most important aspects of the consultation process with the lawyer is gaining some degree of understanding about your case before you begin filing documents in court. Situations like this allow you to better plan for your case and conceive of goals that are achievable for you and your family.

With the implementation of digital consultations and meetings, you have no excuse not to work with an attorney to set up some meetings before hiring a lawyer. Our website makes it very simple for you to navigate and schedule a time to meet with one of our lawyers digitally or over the phone. Once you have had an opportunity to meet with one of our attorneys, you can decide for yourself about representation in the direction of your case. It may be that right now is not the time for you to file a case. Or, it may be that you have to answer a divorce petition and require advice and perspective sooner rather than later. Whatever your case, maybe you should make an effort to set up consultations with an attorney as soon as you can.

Filing a divorce remotely

Remote divorces simplify the filing process. While you may need to collaborate with your attorney to prepare documents, most counties in Southeast Texas mandate electronic filing. This means your location, whether Houston or Alaska, is irrelevant. Your attorney can electronically file your case, eliminating the need for your physical presence in court. Our office will assist you throughout the process, ensuring all necessary documents are submitted promptly.

Once your case has been filed with the court, the next consideration is whether you’ll require a hearing or court appearance soon thereafter. While there’s no guarantee you won’t need to visit the courthouse during your divorce, it’s quite possible you may never have a contested hearing before a judge.

This scenario makes handling your divorce or child custody case remotely even more convenient. Negotiations in a divorce are commonly conducted remotely, whether during a pandemic or under normal circumstances. Your attorney will typically negotiate with your spouse’s attorney over the phone and via email. As long as you’re responsive to calls and emails, this remote negotiation process should pose no problem for anyone involved.

The key is responsiveness. Consider the frustration when someone takes a long time to return your calls. Don’t put your attorney in that position. Technology should make both managing a remote divorce and responding to your attorney’s calls or emails easier.

Completing a divorce remotely

The bulk of your divorce proceedings won’t occur in court or during negotiations, but rather during discussions with your spouse and attorneys. Utilizing this time effectively can lead to better outcomes and expedite the resolution of your case. Prolonged cases are not only more expensive but also more time-consuming. Hence, it’s crucial to make the most of the opportunity provided. Once temporary orders are set, start planning for final orders by reflecting on the effectiveness of temporary arrangements and preparing for mediation. It’s crucial to set yourself up well during this period, as opportunities for adjustments post-final orders are limited.

The other thing to keep in mind is that final orders will require you and your spouse to negotiate on your Community property division. There was very likely little discussion of this in temporary orders. Therefore, you need to have an accurate inventory and appraisal of all your property and have scenarios played out in advance on how to negotiate the division of these items. You do not need to map out every possible circumstance that could arise in the negotiation of Community property, but having a plan and knowing your circumstances will certainly help you and your spouse.

Finally, once your divorce has been through mediation, you should make sure to read every draft of your final orders and ask questions of your attorney until you are satisfied with how the final orders are read. But you do not want to put yourself in a position where you sign a document that you have questions or reservations about. Most word processing software allows the reader to make comments that another person can review. Utilized this technology to your advantage and make the final stages of your digital divorce that much easier.

Remote divorce for a military husband or wife

finally, I wanted to say a brief word on how remote divorces have served military families for many years. Although these servicemembers’ civil relief act prevents your spouse from continuing with the divorce while you were on deployment, many military members and their spouses engage in divorce cases during a time where one spouse is not living in the Houston area. Our office has worked with military members and their spouses frequently and feels fortunate to do so.

If you’re in the military or married to a military service member and considering divorce, reach out to our office. We can set up a consultation free of charge with you and can answer questions about how divorce can progress despite having one or both parties not in the Houston area. Our attorneys have experience working with military members and take pride in serving those who have served our country.

Conclusion

As we emerge from the pandemic, the question of whether divorcing remotely will become a permanent practice lingers. While the convenience and accessibility of remote proceedings may appeal to some, others may prefer the traditional in-person approach. As we weigh the pros and cons, it’s essential to consider factors such as efficiency, emotional impact, and accessibility. Ultimately, whether remote divorces become a fixture in our lives will depend on individual preferences and the evolving landscape of legal proceedings.

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 a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, KingwoodTomballThe Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris CountyMontgomery CountyLiberty County, Chambers CountyGalveston CountyBrazoria CountyFort Bend County, and Waller County.

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