A midlife crisis can mean different things to different people. Finding yourself in a position where you are desperately trying to claw back the hand of time is a losing battle. Father Time is undefeated. Time marches on- for better or worse. If you are going through a mid-life crisis then this blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is for you. We are going to talk about how a mid-life crisis can shape or even cause a divorce.
Different people experience mid-life crises in different ways. For some of us, buying an expensive car may be our outlet when we reach a certain age. The feeling that we are stuck in our present position is not lost on our attorneys. We see clients, opposing parties, and different people involved in our cases struggling with the idea that this may be where their life is now. What’s more, there may not be a path out of that life.
Options. That is what many of us are seeking when we are not happy. If you’re happy you don’t necessarily care about options because you’re fine just where you are. However, for those of you who are seeking something different, something uncharted then a midlife crisis may be just what you are experiencing. A feeling that you experienced in your youth- not knowing exactly what to expect but feeling confident that there is something else out there calling your name can be an intoxicating adventure to try and chase down.
All of this can sound at times to be romantic, at times to be foolhardy, and at other times to seem like it is something that is insane. To try and go out into a world that doesn’t want you to strive for more, to strive for something different can be intimidating to face down. These are the stories of men and women who want nothing more than to understand what it means to push their lives to the limit and see if they have the willpower to hold on for more.
This all sounds good and well but it can be potentially very difficult to balance these desires with the responsibilities that you have within a family law case. Make no mistake- your children have needs of their own, as well. The thing is, the needs of a child trumps your needs. Even a parent struggling with the prospect of a midlife crisis would readily tell you that he or she understands that. Your midlife crisis may impact your divorce but if it impacts your children then there is a different discussion that we need to have.
On the other side of the same divorce coin, we can consider what it means to divide property in a divorce while you are going through a midlife crisis. When you are tasked with dividing property in your Texas divorce you will need to contend with the idea that not all the money you have in your bank account is yours to spend. There are real-life considerations to dividing property in a divorce when you may have different purposes for this money than you would have had even six months ago.
This is what we are going to be discussing in today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Going through a midlife crisis is not unique. However, the way that your midlife crisis impacts your divorce certainly will be unique. If you are meeting with an attorney who seems to be providing you with cookie-cutter answers to your questions then run, don’t walk, to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We can walk you through your situation and provide you with the sort of common-sense information and perspective that you need at this time. A free-of-charge consultation is only a phone call away.
Midlife crises on child support
As part of your divorce, there is a good possibility that you will need to pay child support to your co-parent in order so that your child can have sufficient resources with which to live daily. Contrary to popular belief this does not mean that your child will necessarily need to live the same lifestyle that he or she grew up on. Rather, child support is intended to help bridge the gap between what your co-parent contributes to the rearing of your child.
Since both you and your co-parent have a duty to care for your child. However, if you are experiencing problems with a mid-life crisis you may have started to work different hours which can impact your pay. Additionally, the work you have been doing may have been reduced due to the pandemic or for another cause. In that case, it is important to be able to determine the cause of these problems.
Visitation can be impacted by your midlife crisis
One of the main goals of a parent in a divorce case is to be able to spend as much time as possible with their children. This is a noble and worthwhile goal. However, you may be surprised to find out that there are ways that your midlife crisis can impact your visitation orders. For one it is difficult to have visitation rights assigned to you when you are unsure of what your schedule looks like. It is hard enough to nail down the logistics of visitation when you have a typical, 9-5 job. When you go through a midlife crisis then your work schedule can be completely thrown off.
Picture a situation where you are trying to negotiate with your co-parent on some issue regarding visitation but are quickly finding out the limitations on your schedule with your new job in mind. That job may have sounded appealing while you were trying to rouse yourself out of a bad marriage. However, now that you are trying to go through with the divorce that seemingly “fun” job is now one that is presenting you with headaches. Before you commit to a different work schedule or one that leaves you working while other people are off from work then that could present you with a range of challenges in your divorce.
Possession of the kids and your midlife crisis
One of the tried-and-true hallmarks of a Texas divorce case when it comes to your child custody orders is a Standard Possession Order. An SPO has the first, third, and fifth weekends of each month going to the parent with visitation rights. This, on top of an extended period of possession in the summer, are the most distinguishable characteristic of this possession arrangement. As well as these orders have worked out for people in your shoes who are going through a divorce, they may not work well when you have taken the plunge into your interests associated with a midlife crisis.
If you are going through a midlife crisis then you need to picture the exact type of job that you want to have. This job may not only need to fund your lifestyle but that of your children. On top of this, you need a job that will help you facilitate your possession schedule with the kids. Finding a job that will help you facilitate your midlife crisis-induced dreams is one thing, but if that job makes sharing custody with your co-parent impossible then it is not the job for you.
Health insurance and medical support
In a Texas divorce with minor children, the court will check to make sure that your child has health insurance available to him or her after your case. This health insurance can be made available through your employer, the employer of your co-parent, or the state of Texas. If you are the parent who has visitation rights to your children, then you will be responsible for providing health insurance either directly or indirectly through cash payments and reimbursements.
If you are thinking of going out on your own to start a business or want to take any job that does not have health insurance as a benefit, then you need to consider this as a potential drawback. Having health insurance provided as a benefit through your employer can make a tremendous difference in your divorce. Do not underestimate this difference as you begin to prepare for your case. The less interaction that you have with your co-parent when it comes to exchanging money the better the outcomes for your child in all likelihood.
Substance abuse and midlife crises
Some people in your shoes who are going through a midlife crisis will do so to partake in substances both illegal and legal. Drugs are a no-go when it comes to holding goals relating to custody or minor children. Every individual’s situation is unique, but if you can paint with a broad brush then I would tell you that using drugs is not smart to do during a divorce. Look for another outlet for your midlife crisis if substance use or abuse is your plan at this stage.
Using drugs, especially when your children are present, is dangerous. What’s more, you run the risk of injuring yourself or your children while you are under the influence. Drug tests, supervised visitation, and even termination of parental rights are all in play when you are using illegal substances before and during a divorce. Even legal substances like alcohol can put you on the wrong side of an important family law issue. Better to forego these substances to focus your attention where it matters in a child custody case.
Budget before it is too late
Learning to live on a budget is a huge part of a divorce that many people in your position overlook. I have been told before that a budget is too constricting. It’s almost like a straitjacket as far as how you cannot do what you want to do when it comes to spending money. These are two points that I have heard and continue to hear regularly. However, the best rejoinder that I can muster is that a budget is not restrictive.
Rather, a budget is a plan that tells your money each month where to go instead of you wondering where all the money went at the end of the month. I’m sure that you have run into an issue like this before in your personal life. You are stressed about money and are doing your best to figure out the root cause of these struggles. With all due respect, if you have not tried to budget yet then all your efforts will be worth nothing.
What you are going for is a budget that reaches zero at the end of the month. You want every dollar coming into your bank account to be accounted for before the month begins. This removes nearly all inefficiency from your spending and saving. You can also identify where you struggle the most with your spending/saving/earning and can aim to use a budget as your main tool for correcting these issues.
Finally, consider that your household income is going from two people contributing to only one. Some of you need to be able to adjust your spending because of this. Your home, your vehicle, and everything in between should be reevaluated now that you know your income is going to decrease as a result of the divorce. If you continue to spend like you have two incomes instead of one, then you are positioning yourself poorly for your post-divorce life.
Wasting of community assets
One way that a midlife crisis may impact your case is if you are spending money that is community property on things that you shouldn’t be. A tried-and-true example of this is spending money on a boyfriend or girlfriend before the end of a divorce. This is known as wasting of community assets and I’m sure as you can tell by now, this is a practice that you should avoid.
Your spouse can make the argument that because you are spending community property when you should not be, he or she is entitled to be reimbursed for the money spent. All of this could have been avoided had you simply chosen not to engage in a relationship that was outside your marriage before the end of your divorce. Be wise with your relationships and understand that there will be opportunities to date once your divorce has come to an end. Gifts, jewelry, meals out, hotel rooms, trips, etc. These are all items that will be looked over for possible wasting of community property.
Not being prepared for property division
The last part of property division that could be impacted by a midlife crisis which we will be covering today is related to simply not putting in the work when it comes to negotiations on this subject. Many times, if you are going through a midlife crisis, you may simply not care as much about these negotiations as you otherwise would. The idea that you could go through a divorce and not care about the proceedings could come as a surprise to you. However, some people get divorced and seem disconnected from the process completely.
The reason for this is that some people who go through midlife crises have such a focus on the rest of their lives, their future, and the problems that they forego opportunities to negotiate with their spouse. It is somewhat normal to go through a process where you are trying to rediscover yourself during and after a divorce. Your sense of self can indeed be thrown for a loop because of a divorce. However, it is not worth losing out on property that you worked for throughout your life just because you think that your future self doesn’t need the property or that the negotiations are not worth it.
Final thoughts on midlife crises and divorce
When you feel stuck in a bad situation, or even a situation you find to be undesirable, those feelings can often manifest themselves by you seeking a way out. Even people in happy marriages and good jobs can feel like they need to step out of that arrangement and do something bold, something different. This is where we hear about the idea of people quitting their well-paying corporate jobs to start a business that follows their passion comes from.
We also hear about people stepping out of their marriages to file for divorce. The thinking is that the grass is greener on the other side. However, you may want to reconsider this line of thinking at least as it pertains to your marriage. Consider your options within your marriage before choosing to end the marriage altogether. Midlife crises are not always a permanent feature of your life and to make decisions based on a passing emotion would be unwise.
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 consultations 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 as well as how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.