It always pays to have a plan. This is true in any area of life whether you are trying to land a new job or whether you are trying to consider whether a divorce is in your best interest. When we talk about the need to get ready for a divorce we always seem to jump over the part where you perform some careful self-examination to determine whether you are in a good position to get divorced. A divorce is not something where you should wake up one day and file a case without seriously considering the impacts of your choices. Rather, it is wise to take a step back and consider what it means to get divorced and whether now is the time for you to make that leap. 

Make no mistake, getting a divorce is a leap of faith for you and your family. You may be in one of those circumstances where you need to get a divorce today. For example, if you or your children have been the victims of family violence or abuse then you need to take action that may involve filing for divorce sooner rather than later to keep everyone safe. On the other hand, you may be in a set of circumstances where a divorce probably is something you should consider but it is not an immediate need for you to do.

The reality is that you can read through blog posts on every family attorney’s website, but you can lay your eyes on and you will still not know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not you should get a divorce. The reason for this is since getting a divorce is an intensely personal process that requires you to consider your specific circumstances. What worked well for your coworker, neighbor, or even family member when it came to their divorce will not necessarily hold for yours. With that said, you need to consider what it means to get a divorce for you and your children in the impacts it can have on your family both positively and negatively. The decisions that we make always have positive and negative consequences. What I would like to talk to you about today in our blog post centers around assessing your current situation when it comes to getting a divorce.

Several factors are relevant for many people going through a divorce. While I cannot accurately guess every circumstance that you may be involved in for your family, I can tell you what has been important for many people that I have worked with when it comes to going through a divorce. My advice would be to consider some of these circumstances that I’m going to list for you today and then sit down in a quiet place and think through these and any other subjects that might be important for you and your family.

Turn off the TV and just think

Without a doubt, one of the issues that many people face as they ponder whether a divorce is right for them is that most of the time, we do not give enough thought to any subject while it has our undivided attention. So often we think that we have thought a subject through in a thorough and considerate manner when all the while we have barely diverted our attention from whatever distractions we have in our daily life. Just think about for a moment all the distractions that you have in your home, vehicle, and workplace and how they could impact your ability to thoughtfully consider what you should do regarding your divorce case. I’m willing to bet that most of your time thinking about the divorce has been done with either big television or cell phone turned on and within arm’s reach. While there is nothing wrong with looking at a cell phone or watching TV it is impossible to say that you thoughtfully considered something when you are doing either of those activities at the same time. 

With that said, I recommend turning electronics off and having some time to yourself while you ponder whether to get a divorce. I don’t think it is asking too much for you to stop what you are doing and devote all your attention to this subject. It is amazing to me how my thought process can change considerably based on what else I am doing at that moment. If I am thinking about one subject, I may be less prone to having clear and concise thoughts than when I am completely devoted to something else. My point is that you cannot necessarily trust that you have given sufficient thought to a subject unless you have done so without distraction. It is unrealistic to expect that you can block out every distraction from your life, but it is not at all unrealistic to think that you can greatly reduce your distractions and

Have you tried to communicate your concerns to your spouse?

No matter what the major concerns are in your marriage the reality that I have discovered is that for the most part, the concerns that you encounter are for the most part solvable if only you and your spouse can communicate through them. I say this understanding that it is easier said than done sometimes to be able to talk with our spouse about the problems in our relationships. Sometimes it is just easier to sweep those problems under the rug and to focus on other subjects instead. Many married couples, for example, choose to ignore problems in their marriage and focus on issues regarding their children instead. However, I would warn you that the problems in your marriage can certainly begin to impact your ability to raise your children effectively as a team. While you can sometimes distract yourselves for a period when it comes to diverting your attention from the problems at hand, I recommend that you think thoroughly regarding issues in your marriage and talk through them with your spouse. 

At this point, you may be telling yourself that no there are problems in the marriage but that it is very difficult to talk through those issues with your spouse. This may be true for several reasons. For one, a spouse may be difficult to talk to even in the best of times. He or she may be a bad listener or just may not be receptive to these types of conversations. Or you may not be the best communicator. This is an especially troubling mix when you cannot understand your limitations when it comes to communicating.

We can think about all our skills as being a metaphorical toolbox. That toolbox we’ll periodically need to be refilled and emptied bearing in mind the limitations that we may have. If you find that You are having problems with communication with your spouse, there are a couple of different directions that you can choose to go in. Probably the most direct and simple way to go about this would be to talk with your spouse about the problems to him or her. It would be simple to turn off the TV put your phones away and have a face-to-face conversation with him or her period

Of course, I will readily admit to the reality that this may not work for you and your spouse at this time. The relationship that I have with my spouse it’s probably a great deal different than yours is with your spouse. For that reason, you may need to consider other options when it comes to communication. For instance, have you considered utilizing the services of an experienced marriage or family therapist to help you talk with your spouse about the problems that you are experiencing? Therapy gets a bad name and is typically something that many people shy away from because of the negative connotations regarding seeking mental and relational help from other people. Even beyond the social stigma associated with marriage and family therapy, there are cost considerations and other real-world concerns that may cause you to shy away from considering this option. However, marriage and family therapy that’s proven to be helpful for many people suffering from marital problems and can certainly assist you and your family if you are struggling with relational difficulties.

You may even be able to work with your priest, pastor, or other religious leader and help you with this endeavor. He may be well suited to provide you with this kind of counseling or at least allow you to discuss these problems in a relatively stress-free and judgment-free environment. Again, this is something where you and your family must assess your specific circumstances before deciding about what direction you want to proceed in. However, I must say that it is to your advantage to work on these skills together. Not only can it help save your marriage now but it can better equip you all to be able to work through future problems that you will encounter in your relationship. Without a doubt, there will be future problems that you all will have to work through where communication can be a big leg up and advantage in terms of skills to possess.

One thing I will say is that it is never wise to try to utilize your children in any way to help you solve the problems in your marriage. It is not advisable to go to your children, even if they are older children, to utilize them as a sounding board towards the problems in your marriage. This puts your kids in an awkward position where they are almost having to pick sides or at least give advice that might be to the detriment of their other parent. We have just spent some time in today’s blog post going over all the different persons who might be able to provide you with advice and perspective in a divorce scenario. For that reason, there is no need to ever talk to your children about these problems or go to them for counseling of any sort. Leave that to the professionals and let your children go about their lives as normal.

How strong are your finances?

I should note that by no means am I going to tell you that if you are struggling financially, you should not get a divorce. Divorce is not an option just for wealthy people or for people who are doing well with their money. No matter where you are with your finances there are options for you to get divorced. Fees can be waived by the court if you prove that you are incapable of paying them. Representation can be had at little to no cost and simple planning and negotiation can help you to prepare for your financial life after a divorce is had. With that said, just like in every area of life, being in a good position financially certainly helps in the context of a divorce. Let’s talk about how your finances will impact you in a potential divorce sitting and what you need to think about when it comes to you getting divorced and your money.

Many people stay in bad marriages because of financial concerns over whether they will be able to survive after a divorce if they no longer have access to their spouse’s income. Beyond even their income, you must concern yourself with health insurance, a place to live, and support for your children. With all these factors in play, many people figure that they should stay married even if that means sacrificing their health, safety, or happiness. What I would tell you is not to disregard your concerns but rather to have a plan in mind when it comes to getting a divorce when it comes to your finances. Think through the issues that are worrying you and make a plan on how to attack them within your divorce. 

For example, you may be concerned with getting a divorce because you don’t know where you will live. If you have lived with your spouse and your family home for many years but do not work, then your idea of what will happen in a divorce may be quite different than reality. Filing for divorce would likely mean for you that you would either get to stay in the home or you would receive some degree of spousal support temporarily to find a place of your own. Even after the divorce so long as you have been married at least 10 years you would be able to receive spousal maintenance for a period to get you back on your feet and to help you find a suitable place to live. 

The other financial consideration that many people find themselves stressing out over is regarding taking care of your children during and after a divorce. If you plan on being the primary caretaker for your kids after a divorce, then you should know that child support will almost certainly be coming your way. Child support is calculated based on the net monthly resources of your spouse. The more children you have the more money you will receive in child support. You can talk to your attorney about any special consideration, but your circumstances may merit in terms of receiving additional sums of money and support.

Depending upon your age you may have specific concerns about your retirement. Older people may stay in a marriage that is failing not only because people of their generation simply do not get divorced like we do these days but because of valid financial concerns about their ability to retire and live comfortably once they reach a certain age. Based on the length of your marriage your spouse assuredly much of the retirement income in your spouse’s name is likely to be counted as Community property period since Community property is to be split in a divorce you can sleep easier knowing that a portion of your spouse’s retirement benefits will be coming your way absent any other considerations or negotiating points when it comes to dividing the community estate. You can also obtain information about their retirement circumstances in discovery if your spouse has not been honest with you about how much he or she has in retirement or what the exact situation is. The bottom line is that financial circumstances should not alone dictate whether you move forward with filing for 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 consultation 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 as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.