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Coronavirus & Divorce: It’s More Than Just Washing Your Hands

Many people approach a divorce like it isn't everyday sort of events. I imagine that years ago the topic of divorce was one that caught people's attention much more than it does today. Perhaps since fewer people got divorced years ago it was treated as a much more serious topic. The topic of divorce had different connotations attached to it and in earlier days people who considered divorce did so only after completely exhausting there are other options. Whether we like to talk about it now or not, there was a stigma attached to getting divorced as recently as a couple of generations ago. 

Let's flash forward to the current day. While there still may be stigmas associated with divorce in some cultures and to some people, I think a vast portion of society doesn't consider divorce to be near as life changing or as serious 1 compared to prior generations. We can go through the reasons why this is and what my personal opinions are but I would like to go in a different direction. What I would like to do in today's blog post is to provide you with some context as to what a divorce is, how to get a divorce and what it means for you and your family moving forward. 

The fact is that people enter into a divorce with an expectation of what the process is and what it means for their future and then are often times surprised by what they find once the divorce is actually filed. We all have an idea of what divorce is based on other people we know having gotten divorced and stories from the media but when you yourself are involved in a divorce the process can take on different challenges and have different impacts on your life as a result. In a time like we're living through right now, where there is a great deal of uncertainty, we should understand that a divorce is permanent it is not simple. 

What is a divorce? 

Simply put, the divorce is a legal process by which you and your spouse utile eyes the courts to legally and your marriage. Even though the two of you may never see the inside of a courthouse it is nonetheless a judicial process that requires the filing of a lawsuit. This is maybe the most striking thing about a divorce at least from the outset of a case. Most of us don't think about a divorce like we would a contract dispute or a personal injury lawsuit. Those are “real” lawsuits, right? A divorce is more or less a family dispute that requires basic judicial intervention. That is what many if not most people believe, in my opinion. 

However, a divorce is a full-fledged lawsuit. There will be a petitioner in your case. That is the spouse who actually files the divorce. There will be a respondent in your case. That is the spouse who receives the petition in response with an answer. You and your spouse will each have defined roles within the divorce and will be referred to as petitioner and respondent. If this sounds like legal words you would find in a lawsuit, then you would be correct again, you are filing a lawsuit or responding to a lawsuit in a divorce. 

Next, a divorce costs money. I'm not even necessarily talking about hiring an attorney in the costs associated with doing so. What I'm referring to are the costs associated with simply filing a divorce lawsuit. If you are interested, you can go to the district or County clerk for your home County and look up a fee schedule for filing various family law cases. You will then have an idea of what it will cost to file a divorce, request the temporary orders hearing and to have your spouse served with divorce papers. This is In addition to the costs associated with hiring a process server to serve the divorce papers and eventually hiring a mediator to help you and your spouse settle your divorce. 

Attorney’s fees and the impact of lawyers on a divorce 

The next cost that we need to consider when determining the serious nature of a family law case is the cost associated with hiring a lawyer. When it comes to a divorce one can make the argument that a case gets more serious the more zeroes that are added to the final bill. You can look at your final divorce bill as combining the costs associated with filing your case, mediating your case, dividing up property and debts as well as hiring an attorney. With all that said, I would encourage most people to hire a divorce attorney prior to filing for divorce. Here is why.

If you are considering filing for divorce but believe that you do not have the money or do not have the need to hire an attorney, I would ask that you reconsider. Yes, you could be right in your case could be the unicorn divorce that does not require an attorney. Typically, divorces with little to no assets or debts and no children are ones that I would consider thinking long and hard about whether or not you need an attorney. Filing for divorce and getting a divorce is not overly difficult in and of itself as long as he can pay attention to details, meet deadlines and fill out paperwork. All of these steps would be made easier with the assistance of an attorney but if you are predisposed to not wanting to hire a lawyer these are the sort of characteristics of a divorce that would lead me to believe that you may not need one after all. 

However, keep in mind that we are not living in normal times right now. While the family law courts are still accepting divorces and still are getting people divorced, the procedures have changed here and there throughout the process. If problems arise in your divorce case and you need the assistance I've been judged to settle disputes then you may have more trouble than normal getting your case in front of a judge do too a consistent demand for court time and the reduced capacity of the courts right now. The coronavirus has led to government responses which encourage social distancing but discourage business as usual from transpiring. Not only would you need to navigate the complex nature of a divorce but also the more complex nature of Texas family courts in the coronavirus era.

For most everyone else reading this blog post, an attorney would be beneficial and necessary for you in your divorce. The simple truth is that while most of us may possess the skills necessary to do a divorce on our own What we lack is the time to do so. This is the component that I think many of us forget and neglect to consider when we take on additional responsibility either at work or at home. While the task itself is not monumental the time responsibilities associated with the task may be. That is how I feel about divorce. While you may not speak to you returning every day or even every week of your divorce, no that he or she is working considerable amounts of time on your case. You need only review your bill at the end of each month from the lawyer to know that I am correct. 

Since I am doing my best to convince you about a divorce is a serious matter it is not as simple washing your hands of your spouse and then moving on with your life, I would definitely recommend that you put some effort into hiring the right lawyer for you and your family. 

While the right lawyer for you and your family may be someone different than the right lawyer for your neighbor and their family, the right lawyer to represent you in a divorce shares one characteristic with that of every other good divorce attorney. That being a focus on family law. I would not recommend that you look to higher any other kind of attorney other than an experienced family law attorney. You may know the greatest commercial litigator In Houston but if he has never tried a divorce case before then I wouldn't ask him for advice on your divorce or to have you be represented by him. 

Family law attorneys focused their attention on people going through difficult family related matters. At the top of the list of difficult family law cases is divorce. You want a divorce attorney to represent you in your divorce because he or she will know what to lookout for in negotiations, how to get your family through the divorce process with as little stress as possible and can help you to preserve as much time with your children and community property as possible. Just like in any other area of the law were in any area business for that matter, family law has specific practices that only an experienced family law practitioner would be aware of. Do not put yourself in a position where your spouse as an experienced attorney by their side but you do not.

Time is a factor in a divorce 

I would like to spend the last section of today's blog post discussing with you how time factors into a divorce. From the outset of a divorce, time considerations will be important to take note of. For instance, you should know that from the moment that a divorce lawsuit is filed until the divorce is made final by a judge can be no less than two months. That means a 60-day divorce is likely to be the minimum amount of time that you can expect to spend in your case. The reason for this is that the state of Texas once you to truly consider whether or not you actually want to move forward with the divorce in that filing for divorce was not a spur of the moment mistake on your part. So, the idea of an overnight divorce is not the reality for those of us who live in Texas. 

If it is your spouse who files for divorce and you are then the respondent in your divorce you should know that you have approximately 20 days from the day you are served with divorce papers to file an Answer. The Answer is the name of the document which responds to an original petition for divorce. Without the filing of an answer your spouse could theoretically proceed with the divorce without your participation. 

This is a big deal because in doing so, your spouse could actually create their own final orders in the case and in submit them to the judge. As long as the judge feels that they are within the bounds of fairness and as long as you have been served properly with divorce papers you could be at a real disadvantage in your post-divorce life if you fail to file your answer on time. as a side note, this is another reason why hiring an attorney is a great idea when going through a divorce. Managing the timeline of your case is a full-time job in a very serious matter. Do not treat your divorce like it is a common, everyday occurrence. treat it with respect and you will be able to achieve fair results for you and your family in the 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 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 our staff and attorneys take a great deal of pride and being able to serve our community and look forward to discussing with you how our office can best serve you and your family. 


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