The purpose of the blog posts that we feature here on our website is to provide you with additional, helpful information that can be used to benefit you and your family in the event that you pursue a Texas family law case. We understand that no two cases are alike in that your circumstances may differ dramatically from those of a person down the street from you who may be in the process of filing for a divorce or child custody matter. However, there are some issues and topics that I believe transcend families and are important for all of us to consider in the event that we are confronted with the need to file or defend ourselves against a family lawsuit.
This is true even more so during the coronavirus pandemic. To say that the stakes are higher now than four or five months ago would be an understatement. While we are optimistic that this pandemic will come to an end as soon as possible the impacts that this virus may have on our families are profound. This is true even if no one in our family becomes ill or contracts the virus. Nobody knows how society will change on a permanent basis after virus. What we do now is that those who prepare for those changes will be better positioned than those who have not thought through the potential impacts and I've had nothing to get ready for life after the virus.
In the event that you are planning on filing for divorce it is always a useful exercise to plan ahead and to seek answers regarding How to best proceed in a divorce. This is nothing new, and if you were so inclined you could search through the archives of our blog and find many, many articles about how to prepare for divorce. However, none of those blog posts will have the focus that this one does. Namely, the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus should cause you to shift your focus and emphasis in the divorce to a few particular subjects. It is those subjects that I would like to discuss with you today in our blog post.
A focus on conservatorships rights
Two areas of life for your children that we do not know as much about as we would like to are educational and medical decisions in questions. While we know that the coronavirus is with us now, we do not know how long this pandemic will affect our area and what, if any, long lasting impacts the virus is actually going to have. Most people are confident that at some point in the relatively near future our lives will be older regained regain some semblance of normalcy. when I think of normalcy for our children, I think about them not having to be concerned with getting sick from a virus and being able to resume schooling in person, in the classroom.
Being able to resume a life without concern for getting sick two to the coronavirus has direct relation to medical decision-making. Since the child is too young to be able to make decisions for themselves in regard to their medical treatment those responsibilities fall to you and your co-parent. Most parents need only concern themselves with yearly checkup for their children and the occasional bumper bruise suffered playing sports or engaging in other activities. However, the coronavirus has caused us to shift some of our focus for a period of time too physical health and how parents in a divided household share rights to make decisions regarding medical subjects.
If you are in the process of going through a divorce you should pay special attention to how you negotiate over rights and duties as a parent. Many parents focus most of their attention on the time that they are able to spend with their children. However, raising a child has more to do with right some decisions about their well-being than it does even how much time you are able to spend with that child in terms of days per year. If something were to happen to your child's well-being and here, she required consistent medical care he wouldn't be happy if he traded rights and duties to make decisions and have an input, they were to have a few more days per year with your child.
What I would look at right now is ensuring that I, as a parent, have the ability to express my opinion and impact the type of medical treatment that your child can receive both now and in the future. Examine the physical needs of your child and whether or not you believe that your child will require consistent medical care into the future. Especially if you believe that your child does need more than A basic amount of medical care on a yearly basis you should maintain your focus on Keeping your hat in the ring as far as sharing rights to make decisions or even having the final say so.
I'm thinking about fathers here, specifically. Many times, fathers simply want to have equity with mothers in terms of Visitation time and conservative shipwrights. They consider equality with mom in this regard to be the best-case scenario for themselves in relation to their child. I'm here to tell you that if you are a father who has been an active participant in your child's life that you are fully able to fight for as much as you consider to be in your child's best interest as far as rights and duties are concerned.
For example, if you believe it is in your child's best interests that you be given the final say in making medical decisions for him or her then you should fight for that. Family courts in Texas cannot consider gender when assigning rights and duties to a child. Keep this in mind, especially if you hear from others that courts favor mothers in divorce cases. The truth is that fathers oftentimes position themselves poorly to take advantage of their rights in a divorce in relation to their child. You can bypass this potential roadblock by being aggressive in negotiation yet respectful of the specific needs of your child.
A focus on Visitation Rights and possession schedules
families that live under court orders rely on predictability and stability one planning their lives. What you will learn if you ultimately do go through with the divorce is that you are negotiating for long term solutions to problems that are complex in ever changing. What we have seen with the coronavirus crisis is that things seemed to be different from one week to the next. If this crisis is prolonged and the chances of you and your children getting sick at any point increases then you will want to make sure that your visitation and possession orders are crystal clear as to what to expect in the event of an illness suffered by either parent or your children.
For those people who have already gone through a divorce, then I can tell you that your parenting plan very likely does not discuss anything having to do with what occurs in the event that someone becomes ill. It is assumed that people will get sick with colds and maybe even the flu during a year and that the parents to a child will have to come together in order to resolved questions regarding makeup Visitation And possession schedules. However, with these orders likely could never have anticipated is the degree to which someone may be at risk of getting sick from a virus like COVID-19.
What that means for you, as someone who is currently considering a divorce, is that you need to place more of an emphasis on What happens in the event that someone contracts the virus or otherwise become seriously ill. Again, I would not say that the odds are in your favor of catching the coronavirus or any other serious illness for that matter. However, what this pandemic has done is brought to our attention that it is easier than we may have thought of previously for a person to get sick and otherwise be unable to visit with her possessed her child. As a result, it would make sense to build some language in tier core orders that reflect this reality.
What I am thinking about specifically is language that allows for a process to go into place when a parent or child gets ill with the sickness that is set to last longer than A few days. For example, how would you and your spouse plan on resolving issues if you have to miss two or three weeks of Visitation time with your child due to your recuperating from the coronavirus? Rather than Leave this subject out of your orders and leave it up to you and your ex-spouse to consider this subject after your divorce I would build some language into your orders that allow for a concrete plan to go into place as far as how to resolve this issue.
What I would want to avoid for you is a situation where you have already missed a couple weeks of Visitation with your child due to getting the coronavirus. Once you are healed and are ready to resume normal Visitation with your child you approached your co-parent and initiate a discussion with him or her regarding getting back some of the time, but you lost due to your illness. If he or she is not agreeable to working with you on the subject, then you have precious few options at your disposal if you do not have language in your divorce decree that directs you all were to go from there.
If he or she gives you a hard time about negotiating for additional time together then You would need to either forget about the time you lost and move on or you could potentially file an enforcement lawsuit against him or her. The trouble with filing an enforcement lawsuit would be that if he or she is not technically in violation of any aspect of your court order then you may have trouble winning that lawsuit. The judge would essentially have to award you some sort of finding based on fairness grounds (equity) rather than based on the letter of your family court orders.
Again, however if you had anticipated this issue coming up and had built language into your family court order that anticipated challenges in this area then you would be able to point to a specific provision that your ex-spouse violated when filing your enforcement. An enforcement lawsuit should not be seen as something that is a best option, but it may be the only option if negotiations over rescheduling visitation time for you break down and do not succeed.
Closing thoughts on choosing a focus in your divorce
if you are on the cusp of filing for divorce in Texas and have children Then it is pretty obvious that your kids are going to be your focus. This was true whether or not a virus struck our area. However, given the extent of the damage of this virus and its probable lasting impact it will be foolish not to think about issues related to your children One considering this virus. While you do not need to plan your entire divorce around the virus it is wise to consider any potential changes that will be seen as a result of COVID-19.
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. We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. These consultations can occur in person, over the phone and via video. We take a great deal of pride in being able to serve our community by providing representation in the family courts throughout Southeast Texas on behalf of our clients. Please contact us today in order to learn more about the services our firm can provide to you as one of our clients.