Are you thinking about getting a divorce? One of the side effects of this pandemic and our government's response to it is an increase in the rate of filing for divorce. People are generally speaking unhappier right now than they were eight or nine months ago and as a result it is causing us to look at our relationships more closely. Not only are people generally speaking more unhappy, but we are also spending more time at home. Combination of spending more time at home with being unhappy means that we are bringing our unhappy states of mind into the home place where we are confronted with our marriages. If you are unhappy with your marriage and are more unhappy now due to the virus and the pandemic, then you are likely more inclined to consider divorce.
The reality of the situation is that I can't tell you for certain whether or not you need to file for divorce. That is such a personal, fact specific question and is one that I couldn't possibly answer in a blog post intended for many people to read. What I would like to do they spend some time going through the issues of a divorce case and pose some questions that you should ask yourself prior to filing for divorce. Your circumstances may call for additional questions to be asked but I think these are questions that everyone who considers a divorce should be asking him or herself before taking the step to file.
For many people who are considering a divorce you should first ask yourself whether or not the divorce needs to be filed at all. Could it be that your frustrations with yourself, your spouse in your marriage are ones that can be dealt with in counseling and therapy rather than through filing for divorce? You may even be in a position where simple acts of communication with your spouse can improve your relationship to the point where a divorce is not necessary. Whatever circumstances you find yourself in I think this is the absolutely most important question you can ask. After all, why go through with the divorce that is unnecessary?
The irony of most marital problems is that communication could help solve many if not most of them. Problems of money, infidelity, physical or mental abuse, parenting problems and all the sorts of problems in marriages that I have left out can oftentimes be solved by taking a firmer commitment to communicate with your spouse on a frequent basis. while the pandemic would seem to be the perfect way to communicate more with your spouse the reality does not always match up with our perceptions. I think many times we will put off until tomorrow what could have been done today due to a belief that there will always be more time to take care of what we need to.
If what you need to take care of is having an honest discussion with your spouse about a problems in your marriage, there is no better time than to start right now. Actually, the best time to start would have been weeks or even months ago but since you cannot go back in time the best time to start the discussion would be right now. Take time and carve out opportunities where you are able so that you may speak with your spouse about the specific problems in your marriage. If the lines of communication have broken down so severely that you are not able to be clear with your spouse about problems in your relationship, then you may need to hire A therapist or counselor. Otherwise, I would expect that you and your spouse are fully capable of having this discussion yourselves.
As I mentioned a moment ago, this is the first and most important question you can ask yourself in regard to obtain a divorce during the coronavirus pandemic. What I can tell you about divorce is that once the process starts it is difficult to go in reverse. Remember that it takes one person to file a divorce but two people to cause the divorce process to come to an end. If you want to give yourself the best possible opportunity to save your marriage it should be done before the divorce begins. Talk with your spouse about where you see your marriage going and whether or not a chance to salvage the relationship exists.
What is your personal financial situation looking like at this time?
Now that we are nearly nine months out from the beginning of this pandemic you probably have a better idea of what your financial picture looks like now and into the future then you did even a couple months ago. Many people or facing significant problems in their finances towards the beginning of the pandemic but are now transitioning into a period of normalcy and stability with their income. Hopefully, if you were worried about your employment status early this year you have reached a place of stability when it comes to that subject.
Your personal things situation matters when it comes to filing for divorce. No, I am not implying that you have to be wealthy or have means in order to file for divorce. While it does cost some money to file for divorce it is not an exorbitantly expensive process. Theoretically, you can obtain a divorce for less than $600.00 or $700.00. The vast majority of these costs are reflected in the amount of money it costs to file documents in the County where you live. Otherwise, you could get by and get a divorce on the cheap by simply stating a copy of your case and learning about the divorce process on your own. It is possible and I'm sure you can find people who would tell you about their story in doing so.
However, most divorces cannot be had for this small a sum. The reason is not because divorce attorneys charge an arm and a leg or that the legal system tries to up the costs of your divorce the more money you have. Rather, the reality of most people situation is that your case requires more work to be done then a few $100 will pay for. With that said, you need to take a look at your own pocketbook and see where you are from a financial perspective. If you cannot afford your credit card bill, mortgage utilities or other bills then you need to consider whether or not you can afford a divorce.
It is a personal decision how comfortable you are paying for divorce either out of your own pocket or with a credit card. Trust me when I tell you that most law offices, including our own, are very flexible with how you pay for your divorce. Again, the nature of your case and the specific circumstances you find yourself in will determine how expensive your case will be and what sort of payment structures your attorney will allow you to take in when you hire him or her. The particular aspects of paying for legal representation should be discussed with the attorney that you plan on hiring.
Overall, if you are not comfortable with spending at least a few $1000 under divorce then it may be the case that filing for divorce right now is not in your best interest. There's a saying about business that I also like to apply to the world of divorces. The business saying goes something like this: the first rule of business is that a plan takes twice as long to implement, is twice as expensive as you think that it will be and you're not an exception to this rule. I think the same can be said many times in a divorce. No matter how well you plan out your divorce the reality is that things happen along the way of a divorce case that can and will cause your case to become more expensive. If I'm being honest with you, more divorces see things come up that will end up costing you more money along the line of your case then will end up saving you money. I wish this weren't true but in my experience it absolutely is.
I guess the bottom line for this topic is that you need to determine how necessary your divorce is for your circumstances. If it is something where you need time to save up money to pay for attorney or pay for the divorce and you can safely remain in your marriage, then you probably ought to do so. However, if you find yourself in a relationship that is dangerous to your family or to yourself then this option may not be available to you. What you should do is explore and he sort of options you have to pay for the divorce and then work with the attorneys you are interested in hiring to develop a plan for paying for your divorce and everything that comes along with it.
What do you need to get out of your divorce?
Once you have determined that your divorce is a necessary step and you have the money to pay for that divorce you should then begin to ask yourself what goals you would like to set for your case. Some of his goals are likely going to be must haves and things that you absolutely need to see occur. Other goals may be more optional, and you may be able to bend on those goals given your circumstances. Either way, you should come up with a list of your goals and discuss them with your attorney once he or she is hired.
What do you need to see happen with your children in regard to your divorce? Do you believe that it is in the best interests of your kids for you to be named as their primary conservator? If so, then you should absolutely push for primary conservatorship in the divorce. Start to work on a budget and determine what amount of child support you need in order to make it in a world where you have only your income to rely upon. You and your attorney can use this number and compare it to typical amounts of child support based on the income of your spouse and the number of children you have.
On the financial side of things, if you are running a little bit behind when it comes to retirement savings and believe that you need to be aggressive in negotiating over retirement benefits in the divorce then you should consider this as very important to your case. That may involve working to protect as much of your retirement as possible or working too negotiate on the offensive side in negotiating for your spouse’s retirement benefits. Part of the negotiation process is being willing to cede other areas of marital property to your spouse in exchange for taking on assets and property that is more important to you.
Learning what is and is not critical to your divorce and then working with your attorney to create plans to achieve as many of your goals as possible is important. From having represented many people who have gone through divorce cases I can also tell you that it is important for you to learn what are reasonable goals in your divorce and what are goals that are most likely unreasonable. If you can take these questions in consideration and seriously answer them then you will be better off both in the immediate sense and in the long term once your divorce is complete.
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. Thank you for your interest in our law practice and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow on our blog.