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Do You Need a Divorce After Sheltering in Place?

The situation with the coronavirus seems to change on a daily basis. Just think about what we believed about the virus back in February and March and what we believe and know about it now. The guidance that we receive changes quite a bit and our ability to know what is current and what is not is not always the best. From what I can tell, there are certain recommendations that have been consistent from the beginning and those will remain in place until the end of the pandemic. Otherwise, it's anyone's guess as to what will happen with the course of this virus and our response to it over time. 

One of the side effects of our stay at home orders has been a trend towards an increase in divorce rates in our country and across the world. I think the primary cause of this increase in the rate of divorce has been people spending more time at home with their spouses then perhaps ever before. Problems in marriages that were easier to paper over due to our busy lives are more difficult to do in an error where we are spending a great deal of time at home. As a result of this trend of spending more time at home we are faced with more contact with our spouses and fault lines in the relationships can be revealed much easier. 

As we have discussed another blog post about divorce after the COVID-19 pandemic began it is a deeply personal decision whether or not you should get a divorce. To rush into a decision like this would be foolhardy to say the least. Doing the work that we do here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan we run into people quite frequently who seemed to consider a divorce to not be that big of a deal. This is true whether or not folks have children or are childless. The simple truth is that some people do not consider divorce to be all that important these days simply because more and more people are getting them. 

I would like to take some time with you today to talk about why a divorce is a big deal. It may sound like I am recommending or advising you not to get a divorce if that is what your plan is. Obviously, you know your circumstances much better than I do. There are certainly circumstances out there that for justify your wanting to get a divorce after the worst of his pandemic subsides. Hopefully, with better therapeutic treatments and a vaccine in the near future the worst of the pandemic truly will be behind us. Well I am not equipped to give medical advice or prognosis on the path of this pandemic can tell you that with time people generally become less fearful over any situation, even a pandemic. 

Divorce used to be something that was very difficult to get through a court. The reason for this is that most states in our country maintained that only spouses who asserted fault grounds for divorce could actually get a divorce. Fault grounds are specific, statutorily listed reasons why a divorce could be granted by a family court judge. While you may not be familiar with the term fault grounds you are undoubtedly familiar with what all grounds are: adultery, abuse, abandonment, and financial improprieties. Decades ago, the only way to get a divorce in Texas and most other states was to tell a judge that one of these scenarios is playing out in your home. 

Somewhere along the line no fault divorces became introduced in states beginning in the 1960s and from there it was only a matter of time before legislatures across the country began to adopt the no fault divorce. Unsurprisingly, as more states adopted these no fault divorces the rate of divorce in our country increased a great deal. A simple Google search will reveal that upwards of 1/2 of marriages in our country end in divorce. This is a sobering thought but when you break it down on the granule level there are certain things that can predispose a married couple towards getting a divorce. 

For instance, the better educated a married couple is the less likely a divorce is likely to occur. the more similar the spouses incomes are the less likely a divorce is likely to occur. On top of that, you can look too some softer factors to give you an indication of whether or not you are young marriage may be more likely to end in divorce than others. Generally speaking, I have found that spouses who agree on a few different subjects are very unlikely to ever get a divorce. Let's walk through some of those subjects right now.

if you and your spouse agree on these subjects then you are far less likely to get divorced 

First and foremost, if you and your spouse are in agreement on how to treat one another's families then you will be more likely to have a happy marriage. While much of marriage is composed of time for you, your spouse and your children to build a life together the reality of the situation is that each of your families will play a role in your marriage. For some families that role is larger than others. Sometimes families have better boundaries set up in order to keep people from overstepping their bounds and acting inappropriately. Every family is different. 

Since every family is different and you can never truly know how your spouse’s family in your family will interact with you and your spouse in your marriage it is best to have a discussion early on regarding how each of you will relate to one another's families. For example, if you know that your mother has a tendency to be a little pushy in bossy when it comes to planning family events then it may be wise for you to discuss this early on with your spouse and work to create appropriate boundaries to make sure that this character trait of your mother does not impact your marriage negatively. Some spouses are willing to have this conversation instead of appropriate boundaries. Some spouses don't see any issue with boundary pushing by their families in that can create problems in the marriage. 

If you are the type of person who has problems standing up to your family and if you have a spouse who is very outspoken about issues when it comes to family relationships, then you may have a potential problem on your hands. It is better to solve these issues at the beginning of your marriage then to let them fester. Lainie's open wounds to fester overtime can and often times does lead to divorce. If you and your spouse are still spending a lot of time at home together maybe you can take this opportunity to talk to one another openly and honestly about problems with each other’s families. This may be able to go a long way towards avoiding the divorce as we head into 2021. 

Next, if you have not already done so then I would recommend that you and your spouse take any opportunities you have early in your marriage to determine what your positions are surrounding whether or not to have children. I would expect that most married people would have had this discussion prior to tying the knot but if you and your spouse have not done so then it will be wise to do so at the beginning of your marriage. The positions of different people on having kids can be quite different. You do not want to be surprised with your spouse either wanting or not wanting to have children later on in life. 

For example, it may surprise you to learn that your spouse is dead set against having kids. While he or she may have specific and justifiable reasons for not wanting to have children if you desperately want to have kids then needless to say this could be a potential breaking point in your marriage. The best time to have had this discussion would have been six months before you got married but the next best time to have this discussion is right now. 

Yes, it can be an awfully uncomfortable discussion to have with someone but keep in mind that this is your spouse we are talking about. If you are not comfortable having this discussion with your spouse and I can tell you that there are many more uncomfortable discussions that you will dread having with him or her in the future. It is worthwhile to determine whether or not you have a comfort zone and level of trust in one another for topics such as these. 

3rd, I would point new towards agreement on religious practices as another area where disagreement can lead towards divorce. If you and your spouse are separate religions this may not seem like a big deal and oftentimes it isn't. However, if either one of you are devout in your particular faith back in cause some problems in the marriage especially if you choose to have children. 

I have seen more than a handful of people who are going through divorce have problems agreeing on what faith to raise their children and whether or not it is appropriate for a child to be exposed to different religious upbringings. There are some families who can thread the needle and raise their children and very divergent faiths but for most families that I have come into contact with having different faith backgrounds can and often times does lead to marital and familial difficulties. 

Does this mean that I am cautioning you against getting married to someone whose faith beliefs or other positions don't always align with yours exactly? Of course not. For as many people as there are in our state in our country there are as many different types of marriages that work. If your marriage is based on trust and communication and mutual respect, then there are almost no problems that your marriage cannot overcome. 

What I would offer to you is that the above scenarios oftentimes do lead to disagreements and problems for those who are newly married. Whether you are newly married or are involved in a marriage of many years having discussions on these subjects can be fruitful a benefit each of you in your families a great deal. Seeking outside intervention as far as counseling or therapy can help to keep these discussions off the ground, if nothing else. Sometimes having an outsider speak into your marriage can be beneficial even if it feels a little awkward at first. any steps you can take to mitigate against the risk of divorce is worth it in my opinion. 

Do you actually need to get a divorce? 

Once we get past the issues of why a married couple is more likely to get a divorce, we then have to tackle the subject of whether or not you actually need to file for divorce from your spouse. Obviously, this is a very personal question in one that is impossible for me to answer any blog post having never met you personally. 

The best that I can do is present you with if you circumstance, I think better justify your filing for divorce now or at any other time. The reality of your situation is that it is not altogether dissimilar from most any other time period yes, we have not lived most of our lives under a pandemic in there are health concerns and other concerns that are unique to this time. That you may not have been able to foresee and will hopefully never experience again. 

However, the courts are operational, and you can get a divorce simply by filing as such. Before you work too interview and hire an attorney, file for divorce and spend the time, money and effort that it takes to actually get divorced I would recommend that you do some serious thinking an approach your circumstances as objectively and unemotionally as possible. If you can do so and have a strong indication that a divorce is necessary and that is the direction you should move. 

First of all, I would figure out whether or not you are at risk harm by remaining in your marriage. Unfortunately, one of the byproducts of the government led shutdowns and stay at home orders has been an increase in cases of domestic violence occurring in our country and around the world. Simply being present with your spouse in a closed environment with no outlets for your anger and frustration elsewhere has led to disaster when it comes to interpersonal violence within the family. 

This would be the first concern that I would have if I were you and you were contemplating a divorce. Are you and your children at risk of harm? Keep in mind that if your children are not in school in our learning remotely at this time then one of the avenues for your children too, he kept safe is that their teachers often times are one of the first lines of defense towards alerting authorities towards abuse or neglect. If you have no outlets for keeping yourself safe and your children are not able to be monitored in protected in some way by their teachers, then you are at a point where a divorce and a move may be necessary. 

Otherwise, I would consider the circumstances of your life and whether or not you're in the best place to get a divorce from a financial and for relational perspective. First of all, you need to understand that divorce is not as expensive most likely as others make it out to be, but it does cost money to hire an attorney in file four and proceed with a divorce. Do you have the money to pay for these costs or are you able to access the credit necessary to do so? If not, then you divorce may not get very far. 

The other consideration that I would give is to look at your divorce from the perspective of whether or not it needs to occur. The most you can tell yourself that you cannot continue on in this marriage then a divorce probably isn't necessary. A feeling that you could go either way on the subject of divorce does not mean that you should get divorced. What it does mean is that you should do some serious thinking about how to improve the trajectory of your marriage so that a divorce is not necessary and does not become necessary in the future. 

Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material presented 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 free of charge and can go a long way towards helping you learn more about your circumstances, the world of Texas family law and the services that our office provides to each and every one of our clients. 

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