So you have finally decided to get the divorce that you have long been considering. This has not been an easy decision for you to make, but you believe that your family should move forward with a legal and marriage. This is a decision that you arrived at considering the advice of your close friends and family while taking part in any counseling or reconciliation that you could have attempted with your spouse. Despite that, you have concluded that a divorce is the best solution to the problems you have it’s been experiencing in your life and your marriage.
No question that this has not been an easy decision for you 2 arrive at but may pay dividends for you and your family in the future. However, that does not make the decision any easier or more pleasant in the short term. At the same time, you have decided to move forward with the divorce, that does not mean that the process will be immediate or without bumps in the road. That means you need to determine how to handle best any type of adversity you experience regarding your divorce case’s ups and downs and the process leading to the divorce.
For starters, I think it bears mentioning that the divorce will not be something that is concluded as soon as the thought enters your mind. Pardon my referencing a popular television show, but any fans of the television series The Office can likely recall a funny instance where Michael Scott boldly declared bankruptcy in the middle of the office. Later, another character on the show sat down to say that declaring bankruptcy verbally is not the same thing as declaring bankruptcy in the legal sense. This was a hilarious joke and one that is referenced quite a bit still in our popular culture.
In much the same way, simply being ready for a divorce and getting divorced is not the same. There is a process associated with getting a divorce that must be followed and cannot be completed overnight. For that reason, even after you have planned for your divorce, started the case, and followed the steps associated with beginning the process, there will be a few months of finalizing a divorce in Texas.
In the meantime, however, you may emotionally feel like you have moved on and the divorce is done with before it starts. It is not uncommon to see people who are still married yet going through the divorce act as if their case is already over with. The impact of this kind of behavior can be felt both immediately and in the long term. Put, acting like your case is over with before it even can result in nothing but bad outcomes for you and your family.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I will share my thoughts on how not to behave after you decide to get a divorce. Whether yours will be an open and shut case that takes a minimal amount of time or will be a divorce that likely has its ups and downs, certain behaviors should be avoided during the pendency of your divorce case. Although it can feel like a divorce never truly gets off the ground for quite some time, the best steps you can take towards minimizing disruption to your life and that of your children is to act conservatively during your divorce to avoid potential problems.
Waiting (for the divorce)- it’s the hardest part.
As I mentioned a moment ago, getting a divorce is not something instantaneous that you can achieve. Wishing for divorce will not make it come to fruition. Rather, you have to take concrete steps that involve filing an Original Petition for Divorce in a county or district court that has jurisdiction over the subject matter and parties in your case. Officially, once you have performed this latter step, then you will have formally begun the process of getting divorced in the State of Texas.
From there, the waiting begins. In Texas, there is a 60 day waiting period to obtain a divorce from the date you filed your Original Petition. This should give you some indication of the importance of why it is that you need to have a plan and then be intentional about accomplishing that plan. Otherwise, there is only so much you can do to speed up the process. Unless you are being abused, your children are being abused, or some other extenuating circumstance is involved in your divorce. The 60 day waiting period almost certainly will not be waived by the judge.
At this point, you may be wondering what the purpose of having a 60 day waiting period is. Why not just allow people who want to get divorced on their time? As I understand it, the motivation is that the state of Texas does not want to encourage people to get divorced. The state does not want to prevent people from getting divorced, either, but having a waiting period to get divorced may encourage people to reconcile or counsel their way out of a marital issue. As I’m sure you could imagine, if you do not have to wait two months to get divorced, many more people would likely get divorced- often to their detriment.
This is a reality that many people find out about only after filing their case. Sometimes you ever run into a situation where people have plans to immediately move upon filing for divorce, marry another person upon filing for divorce or perform some other important life event once their divorce has been filed based on the misunderstanding that filing for divorce is the same thing as actually getting a divorce. Unfortunately, a family law attorney is often the bearer of bad news when sharing this information. Tapping the breaks on those sorts of life plans is a part of getting a divorce that you need to be aware of before filing the case.
Do not start dating before the end of your divorce.
This is or recommendation that I’m sure will frustrate many of you reading this blog post. One of the easiest ways to put a failed marriage behind her was to begin dating until lookout on the dating pool with fresh eyes and with a fresh appreciation for your newfound freedom. However, I am here to tell you that you are not yet free even though you have hired an attorney and even filed the divorce. By now, you should realize that the divorce is only over until the judge says that it is. Until then, you are still married, and you should act that way.
I do not mean that you need to send your spouse an anniversary card if your anniversary falls during the divorce. I also do not mean that you need to wear your wedding ring everywhere that you go. I do not even mean that you have to try to reconcile with your spouse every moment of your divorce until the bitter end. I mean that you should not jump on social media, create a profile on a dating website, or otherwise start dating during the divorce. Doing so gives the impression to yourself on an emotional level that your case is done when it is far from over.
On a relational level, it can take your focus off of your divorce and place it on people and activities that provide you with only immediate benefits. A divorce is a long-term play. It is a long-term play that requires your involvement and diligence in terms of the objectives you have in your case. Taking your eye off the ball to go on a date or begin pursuing another person romantically during the case leaves you scatterbrain and place his priorities in front of your divorce. There is nothing more frustrating for an attorney than pursuing your client’s goals only to see the client be more focused on extracurricular activities.
Imagine your children’s perspective on a family level if they were to find out that you are dating or romantically involved with a person other than their other parent. While this may not surprise them on some level, it will almost certainly confuse them even more so than they have been by the entire divorce process. I can think of no other action he can perform during a divorce that could harm children in the long run. They are already used to understanding their family as mom, dad, and the kids period now that you are changing that to a great extent, you do not need to pour gasoline on the fire by adding a new person into their lives during the pendency of a divorce.
Nothing stops you from moving on with your life, and begin linking to date once your divorce is over. As I’m sure you could imagine, there is no shortage of people in the dating pool who recently came off a divorce. You are likely to find many people with similar stories that you can commiserate with when the time is right. Note, however, that the time is not right during a divorce case. You should act as if you are still married because, in fact, you still are. Wait for your case to come to an end; have no strings attached by anyone or any legal case. He will almost surely find more fulfilling relationships as a single person than as a married person going through a divorce.
Another point I would like to make is that it is difficult to negotiate with your spouse if they know that you are already invested in a new relationship. There are a couple of reasons why I believe this is true. Number one will most likely annoy or at least frustrate your spouse to know that you are already dating another person while still married to them. Even if you are frustrated or upset with your spouse, you can still understand their frustration with you and the hurt pride they can suffer due to this sort of action.
I am not telling you to focus all of your energy on doing things that make you’re soon to be ex-spouse happy. However, I am pointing out to you that the reality is that you have to spend some time in a divorce negotiating with your Co-parent and spouse over the issues that are the most critical to your case. From my experience, negotiating with a person under these circumstances can lead to less than desirable results when you bear in mind that they may be aware that you are already moving on during the divorce. This can make negotiating in good faith even more difficult than it would have been had you not already begun reentering the dating pool.
Another concept to think about is that by starting to date during a divorce, you are putting yourself in a position where you are making your intentions known to your spouse that you want to move on sooner rather than later. For instance, if you have begun a serious dating relationship during your divorce, your spouse becomes aware that you plan to marry this other person as quickly as possible after your divorce puts you in a bad position from his strategic perspective.
What I mean by this is that your spouse knows that you have a great deal of motivation to wrap up the case as quickly as possible to move on to a new marriage. This puts you in a position where you have to take offers and consider counter offers from your Co-parent that you otherwise might not accomplish the goals you want in your divorce case. Second or she might not bargain with you in good faith, knowing that he will ultimately have to accept the offers they are making on their terms because of your desire to go ahead and get the divorce as quickly as possible.
While I would agree that it is odd to have to think about life, romance, and all the rest in terms like this, it is the reality of a divorce. You cannot be so consumed with your new relationship that you lose track of the fact that a divorce is as much a business negotiation as anything else. The person you are negotiating with will seek to use any advantage to gain the upper hand. Certainly, information regarding your desire to quickly move on to a new marriage can be used against you in the negotiation process.
What a new relationship means to your children and custody negotiations
One other element then I would take note of as far as negotiations during a divorce are that by involving yourself in a romantic relationship before the end of your divorce, you are putting yourself in a position where your children will likely become aware of your behavior sooner rather than later. In contrast, you may have justified this in your mind in one way or another and even spoken to your children about it in the past that does not mean that you can absolve yourself of any wrongdoing.
What I mean by this is that almost certainly, your children are going to be negatively impacted by you’re being in a relationship during the divorce if they are impacted at all. The whole point of being involved in a child custody case is to make decisions in your child’s best interest. It is difficult to make an argument that becoming involved romantically during a divorce is in the best interests of your children.
Your spouse’s attorney will almost certainly understand this and will negotiate with this fact in mind. A family court judge, for instance, almost certainly does not look past this fact if you are attempting to negotiate for primary custody of the children. Can you be expected to make the best interest decisions on behalf of your children if you have decided to spend time, money, and resources on a new romantic partner during a divorce that will impact the future of your relationship with your children? This is the sort of question you need to ask yourself before starting a romantic relationship during your divorce.
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 and how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.