The classic American conception of the workday begins at 9 and ends at 5. How many songs have been written about the nine to five work schedules? We can probably hum or sing a couple of those to ourselves right now. Rolling into work when the sun is getting up and getting home by dinnertime is what most of us are used to up in our working lives. This allows us to maintain a somewhat normal schedule as far as our body clocks are concerned. We do not have to get off-kilter as far as our eating, sleep, or other habits.
The other thing that working a typical nine-to-five work schedule allows us to do is be on the same schedule as our children. When kids are in school, they go to school during the daytime without fail. There are no night school options for children. If we work hours that do not allow us to be at home the moment our children get off from school then there are after-school activities, daycare, and other arrangements that can be made. This has been a development during the past three or four generations when women began to enter the workforce more consistently and left the home.
Working during the same hours that our children are in school makes sense on many levels. Fortunately, most people can work fairly standard hours that allow them to be at home when their children are also off from school. However, if you are a firefighter then you may have some concerns about how to build meaningful relationships with your children because of your work schedule. I can’t speak for every single firefighter, but I know of many firefighters who work shifts where they will be asked to remain on call for at least 24-hour shifts and then we’ll have multiple days off from work. Depending upon the needs of your fire station or department you may be asked to take on either longer or shorter shifts with variable times where you can be off from the work period
To this point in your life working these shifts may not have been completely intolerable for you and your family. Having a spouse by your side who can be home during the hours when you were working with your children means that there will always be someone present to care for your kids when they are home. Additionally, you can go to work and serve your community and not be concerned about the well-being of your children while you were away. After all: marriage is a team sport and you and your spouse are teammates in all things. This includes raising children.
However, this discussion can change to a great extent when you consider the challenges posed by a firefighter’s divorce. Once a divorce begins and certainly after the divorce case is over you are no longer raising children in a pure team environment. Yes, there is such a thing as co-parenting after a divorce where you and your ex-spouse we’ll need to work together and communicate to raise your children. With that said the nature of your relationship will never be as good as it once was when you and your spouse had a working marriage. In that case, you need to consider what challenges may be present in terms of raising a child while being a firefighter.
Probably the most significant consequence of getting a divorce as a parent of children under the age of 18 is needing to figure out how you are going to structure possession, visitation, and conservatorships issues regarding your kids. While most parents understandably concern themselves with the visitation and possession questions primarily conservatorships is also a topic that you and your attorney should work hard on while engaging in negotiations for your divorce case. Do not overlook the importance of being able to make decisions for your child and retain duties to care for your child because of your divorce.
Firefighters especially run the risk of losing time, decision-making capabilities, and duties for their children because of their profession. This does not mean that you are a bad firefighter or a bad parent. What it does mean is that children typically do best with a parent who works consistent hours in a stable environment. While your work schedule man self is consistent the hours do not necessarily coincide with your child’s school and extracurricular activities. As a result, it is difficult for you to commit to being present for your child as much as he or she may require. Whereas while you were married your spouse was able to fill in these gaps for you the reality is that as a single adult the same cannot be said.
All of this, I believe, should not cause you major concern and an endless amount of worry. It should certainly be on your radar for this is not a situation for you to try to avoid or one for you to despair over. Rather, by working with an experienced family law attorney you can take your work schedule, needs of your children, and other circumstances in your life and combine them into a whole life approach geared towards benefiting your children and strengthening the relationship that you have with them. The question you need to ask yourself is how you are going to connect all of these dots?
By contacting the experienced family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan you can begin to learn more about divorce in Texas. It is true that all divorces, no matter who you are, follow the same general steps and process. However, every divorce tends to look different due to the number of individualized factors involved in your case compared to another person. Do not underestimate the degree to which your work schedules, that of your spouse, or the needs of your children will play a role in the negotiation of your divorce case. When you consider that most Texas divorces are settled out of court rather than determined in court by a judge that makes negotiation and planning even more important.
A free-of-charge consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys can begin the process of you learning more about your case and how to approach the different issues that are relevant to you and your family. These consultations can take place at one of our two Houston area locations, over the phone, or even via video. We want to help accommodate your needs and your work schedule as much as possible. Please reach out today if you have questions or simply want to learn more about getting a divorce in Texas. Our attorneys can help guide and provide you with information that can be of great assistance to you and your family.
Working out a plan for visitation with your children during and after a divorce
Work-life balance is something that we hear a lot about these days. Everyone wants to be able to achieve great success both as a parent and in the workplace. This is the equivalent of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. However, most people who have raised children while working can tell you that there are seasons of life where more attention needs to be paid at work and more attention than will need to be paid at home. There is no permanency or being able to provide constant attention either at home or at work period that plan simply will not work for most people. Rather, you need to be able to pick your spots and focus your attention on important times both at work and at home when the time is right.
For example, if there is a performance review, training exercise, or another part of your firefighting work that needs to have your attention for a season of time then you may need to shift some of your focus away from home and place it on your work during this time. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about your home life or your kids. However, it is simply acknowledging that there are commitments at work that require you to pay attention. Once the season is over at work you can go back to applying a normal amount of attention to your family or children.
By the same token, if your child is struggling with your divorce, academics, or in any other area of your life, you may need to take some time away from normal work activities to provide your child with the attention that he or she needs. For example, it may be that you must provide your child with counseling or other therapy for any reason. It’s not as if you can leave your child to attend those meetings on their own. Being present with your child and asking your employer to make temporary accommodations for you it’s just a part of parenting. It will not last forever and you will be able to r resume a more standard work-life balance once you have addressed the issue with your child.
The bottom line is that being able to achieve a perfect work-life balance is simply not possible. There will always be times when one area of your life will take away from the other. Wellbeing a firefighter and working the type of hours that you do is a unique condition for firefighting the inability to achieve a constantly perfect work-life balance is not unique to firefighters. All adults who are parents of young kids struggle from time to time at being able to achieve the desired amount of work-life balance that we strive for. Again, this does not make us bad parents or bad employees. It is just an acknowledgment that there’s nothing wrong with striving for a great work-life balance even if that balance is sometimes hard to achieve.
When it comes to you being a firefighter you should always pursue opportunities to advance your career in hopes of being able to benefit the life of your child and yourself. Rising through the ranks of the firefighter it’s probably different than doing so in corporate America or a typical office environment. However, you should learn what it takes what the chief of your department or other supervisors looks for when assigning shifts and allowing people to advance in their careers as a firefighter. Having discussions and understanding expectations is a key part of this process.
I mentioned this to you not because I am a career coach but because advancing in the ranks of a firefighter may allow you to achieve a greater work-life balance. Well, I have never been a firefighter personally I have known and worked on behalf of firefighters in the past. From what I understand certain roles within the fire department allow for more consistent and stable hours compared to the typical shift work that a firefighter is expected to endure. If ultimately your goal is to have more standard hours in terms of your work schedule, then asking how to get to that stage in your career would make a lot of sense to me. If you are just starting as a firefighter, it may take some years of service to get to that point. However, if you are a veteran firefighter then your ability to get into those sorts of positions may be somewhat easier than you had believed previously. Asking and then learning and obtaining information is usually the first step in this process. You may be surprised to learn just how achievable it is for you to be able to rise in the ranks of firefighters.
For the time being, however, you may need to just figure out how to manage your work schedule in terms of being able to build a visitation and possession schedule with your kids. As I mentioned at the beginning of today’s blog post it is not as if your work hours and your child’s school hours will ever perfectly coalesce. That is probably a dream that will never be fully realized. However, you can take your work schedule as a firefighter and then build a possession schedule around it as best as possible. What that looks like for you depends a great deal upon the needs of your children and your availability to meet those needs.
For example, suppose that you work a schedule where you are on call for 48 hours and will be away from home. After that, you will be available to spend time with your children for three days at a time. Your schedule rotates like that on a predictable and consistent basis. What can this mean for you as far as opportunities to spend meaningful time with your kids? Well, it may mean that you and your Co-parent need to work together to negotiate a possession schedule that works well for your children and both of you. The idea that your spouse will become frustrated and simply tell you that he or she will not work with you on negotiation for the subject is not reasonable or realistic. The fact is that as a family court judge we will not penalize you for being a firefighter if it comes to going to a trial.
Rather, even firefighters get time with children and divorce trials. He was a firefighter who can be awarded time with your children even if you do not work a traditional 9 to 5 schedule. However, a standard possession order likely will not work well for you considering that weekends are not always available to you. For that reason, you may have to come up with a schedule that allows you to see your children as much as possible during the week and on the weekends when you are available. If you know that your schedule is going to be the same for an extended period, then that is something that you should negotiate through in your divorce. Look at your calendar and then the needs of your children. Negotiate with your spouse on a schedule that will not disrupt the lives of your children but will allow you to see them as much as possible.
The last item I will note is that living close to your ex-spouse can make all of this a lot easier for you and your children. The less time you spend in the car the more time you can spend with your children. When you consider the challenges related to traveling in and around the Houston area by car with children then you know exactly what I mean. Limiting the amount of car travel to pick up and drop off your children means that you have more time with them to spend. This is a factor of many people do not consider during a divorce and I think that is a mistake, especially for firefighters.
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 firefighter divorce cases as well as about any other family law case in Texas and how it may impact you and your children moving forward.