COVID-19 UPDATE: We are open to serve you, with in office visits, remotely via teleconference, & video conference. Call Today!

How Will a Global Pandemic Affect Divorce Rates?

As many Americans face lockdowns with their spouses–and more quarreling in already tense relationships–they find themselves wondering if divorce is looming on the horizon. How do significant historical events affect the divorce rate? And what does this mean for us?

Divorce and 9/11

Sometimes, when things are uncertain, couples seek comfort with the familiar. One notable example is 9/11. Immediately after the terrorist attacks in New York City, the divorce rate dropped by 32%. The rate dropped in New York and the surrounding area, as well as in other large cities, like Los Angeles.

A similar divorce rate drop happened after the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Couples simply chose to stay together rather than separate during a difficult time. However, the divorce decrease may not have lasted that long. While couples chose to stay together immediately following the event, the divorce rate eventually increased in the long term.

Divorce and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

One study of military families found an increase in the divorce rate for soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. The divorce rate directly correlated to the amount of time the military spouse was deployed in a war zone. 

Couples that experienced deployment to war zones were 28% more likely to divorce within three years of marriage, compared with couples that experienced similar deployment in more peaceful times before 9/11.

The 2013 RAND Corporation study found that, after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, couples faced the increased stress of being apart, as well as the stresses that can come when a military spouse returns to civilian life–like PTSD.

Divorce and Natural Disasters

Stress of all types can have an impact on the divorce rate. Studies have generally found that the stress of natural disasters drives couples apart. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, for example, the divorce rate notoriously spiked. Divorce rates also increased after Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Sandy.

Divorce and COVID-19

The New York Times recently reported that, in China, where the novel coronavirus forced hundreds of millions of people into lockdown, the number of divorce applications surged in at least two Chinese provinces when restrictions were lifted.

So, how will coronavirus affect the divorce rate globally? Only time will tell. The global pandemic is unprecedented. While there have been other pandemics, this one comes at a unique time in American history where divorce is more accepted than earlier in history.

Reach Out to Our Team for Divorce Help

At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we understand the major stresses that COVID-19 and the things that come with it–like social isolation and job loss–can put on a marriage. If you would like to seek legal counsel, our attorneys can help you achieve the best possible outcome. For a confidential consultation, call our Arlington office at 817-755-1852 or send us a message.

Sources: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/world/coronavirus-lockdown-relationships.html

https://www.rand.org/news/press/2013/09/03.html

https://slate.com/technology/2012/11/sandy-birth-divorce-and-marriage-rates-how-disasters-influence-families-and-relationships.html

Can I Still Contact an Attorney During Uncertain Times?

It probably comes as no surprise that COVID-19 has slowed or stopped many important activities in Texas and across the globe. The Texas courts are no exception. Courts have slowed across the state, and jury trials are on hold. 

You should know, however, that stay home orders do not include many essential services. And “workers supporting the operations of the judicial system” are an essential service. Judges, clerks and court staff are all working–they’re just working in ways that help protect them and others from potential exposure to the coronavirus.

So, if you have an essential legal matter that needs to be taken care of, courts will be able to act–even in such uncertain times. You should not hesitate to contact an attorney for the help you need. This is especially true for matters like:

  • Child protection
  • CPS hearings, like removals, status reviews and permanency review hearings
  • Domestic abuse/family violence, including temporary restraining orders (TROs)
  • Adoptions
  • Child support bond releases
  • Protection of someone you love when their health or safety is at risk

Video Conferences Through Zoom

Courts are adapting to what may be our “new normal” for some time. For example, many essential hearings are taking place as video conferences. Texas courts have access to new remote proceedings capability through Zoom, and the court system says that some proceedings can be conducted remotely through this technology.

If you’ve never done a Zoom conference before, you’ll likely become familiar soon. The number of Zoom users has increased significantly. If you do appear at a video conference, your lawyer will walk you through how it works to help ensure things go smoothly.

Estate Planning and COVID-19

It’s also a good time to talk with an attorney about your estate planning documents. Having an estate plan in place can give you peace of mind, even during uncertain times. Your lawyer can draft a will, power of attorney, health care directive and other important documents.

These documents will help make sure your wishes are followed in the event of serious illness. They can give your loved ones the tools necessary to manage your affairs and to make important decisions about your healthcare and finances.

Questions About Family Court? Contact an Attorney.

If you need legal help protecting your interests or the interests of a loved one during uncertain times, call the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 or send us a message. Our Texas divorce lawyers are here to support you and your family. 

Sources:https://www.txcourts.gov/media/coronavirus-covid-19-court-operation-guidance/

Special Considerations in a Military Divorce

Divorce is a trying time for many, especially those within the United States Armed Forces. Although the divorce process doesn’t change for service members, there are some unique challenges involved.

Special Considerations in a Military Divorce

Every divorce case is different. This is most evident in military divorces. Some of the special considerations that arise during a military divorce include:

  • Child support calculations: If a parent is deployed overseas, tax issues may arise that directly impact the calculation of child support payments.
  • Child custody and deployment: Creating a solid and efficient child custody plan becomes challenging when one parent is deployed. 
  • Modifications due to changing circumstances: In the military, change is inevitable. Child custody, alimony, or child support modifications may be required to accommodate new changes such as deployments or relocations.

Another difference lies in your retirement benefits. State and federal laws allow both spouses to access military retirement benefits due to divorce. According to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, a court can award up to 50% of a service member’s retirement pay to an ex-spouse. 

Of course, the division depends on many factors such as the length of active-duty service. This protection complicates property division in a military divorce.

Special Considerations in a Military Divorce | iStock-1208349126

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and Divorce

When one or both spouses are currently deployed, divorce can become a bit tricky or may need to be postponed. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects all active-duty service members while on active duty. The act prevents service members from being taken to court for civil proceedings such as divorce and child support hearings. 

The protection begins on the date of entering active duty and ends within 30 to 90 days after discharge. 

Call the Military Divorce Attorneys at Schneider Law Firm

As you can see, you must enter a military divorce with care. We recommend reaching out to an experienced military divorce attorney who can guide you through the process. Allow us to support you along the way. To learn more about military divorce or to discuss your case, call our Ft. Worth office at 817-755-1852 or send us a message.

Who Keeps the Pet in a Texas Divorce?

The relationship you have with your pet is like nothing else. Pets can be man’s (or woman’s!) best friend, a constant companion and a source of comfort – especially during a difficult time. So, it’s no wonder that we often see divorces in which spouses’ greatest source of conflict is deciding who will keep a beloved family dog or cat. If you’re worried that your divorce may affect your relationship with your pet, here’s what you should know.

Texas Law on Pets in Divorce

Currently, Texas law treats family pets the same way it treats property. Courts seek to divide the property equally, deciding who gets the pet the way they would decide who gets any other asset – without regard to a spouse’s personal connection with the pet or where the pet would be happier.

Essentially, the current law treats a beloved family pet the same way it would any other personal property, like a lamp or a desk. In theory, a court could order that a pet be sold and the profits be divided equally between the two spouses.

Courts have explained this decision in the context of resources: Courtrooms are already full of people who are involved in heated child custody disputes or child custody modifications. Courts have said they simply don’t have the resources to hear pet custody cases, too.

Who Keeps the Pet in a Texas Divorce? | Schneider Law Firm, P.C. | iStock-1137961063
817-755-1852 – Based in Ft. Worth, the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., can help you in a divorce involving a beloved pet. We understand just how much a pet can mean, and we work to protect your rights.

The Law Might Be Changing…

Legal experts think that the law may change in the future. In fact, it already has changed in states like Alabama, Vermont, Alaska and California, and a change in the law seems likely in New York. These states have taken first steps to considering “puppy custody” by taking the best interests of a dog into account when determining which spouse the dog should live with.

Legal experts explain the change by taking into account the pet’s significance: Why should the law prevent spouses from dividing time with a pet? After all, the courts already let spouses work through extensive conflict related to inanimate objects. For many people, family pets are much, much more significant than any object.

How to Protect Your “Pet Custody” During a Divorce

So, how can you protect your relationship with your pet during a Texas divorce? If your relationship with your pet is important, mention it to your lawyer right away. Knowing that it is critical, your attorney can strategically work to protect your relationship with the pet during the divorce process. Often, it is possible for your attorney to negotiate with your spouse’s attorney so that the dog or cat lives with you after the divorce.

To get started protecting your relationship with your pet, call the Arlington office of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-755-1852.

Sources:

https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2019/02/25/the-best-interest-of-the-dog-a-beloved-pet-is-mere-property-in-a-divorce-but-maybe-not-for-long/

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gpsolo_ereport/2018/april-2018/pet-custody-who-keeps-pet-when-couples-divorce/

When a Child Custody Order Is Confusing

We sometimes hear from parents who are confused and upset by the court orders they received from Texas courts. For example, a child custody order might say different things on different pages, or it might be written in a way that doesn’t make sense or that’s too vague to follow.

The court order makes child custody and visitation a challenge, and it can cause disagreements between the parents. Sometimes, one parent accuses the other of not following the order when that parent was just following a different part of the order. Not following the order is called “being in contempt.” It’s a serious problem that can get you into deep trouble in Texas courts.

A Motion to Clarify

If your child custody order doesn’t make sense to you or the other parent, or if it’s causing conflict in your custody arrangement, there are actions you can take. Texas law allows parents and their attorneys to file something called a “motion to clarify.” The motion asks a court to clarify an order if the court finds that the order is not specific enough and that one parent could be held in contempt if the order was clarified.

Your lawyer can help you seek a motion to clarify before the court finds that one parent is in contempt, as part of a contempt proceeding, or after a denial of a motion for contempt.

When a Child Custody Order is Confusing | Schneider Law Firm, P.C. | iStock-1090431444

817-799-7125 – Texas law allows parents to file a motion for clarification when a child custody order is unclear, and a parent may be acting in contempt for not following it. Get help from an attorney at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., in Arlington. 

What a Motion to Clarify Doesn’t Do

When the court grants the motion to clarify, it simply rules to change the order to be less confusing. There are things that a motion to clarify does not do, including:

  • Substantively change the order: A change in a court order is called a “child custody modification.” If you would like the order changed so that the terms of the arrangement are different, seeking a modification is probably a better fit for you. Talk with your attorney.
  • Apply retroactively to hold a parent in contempt: The order only applies going forward, so you can’t ask the court to clarify the order, and then immediately hold the other parent accountable for not following it in the past.

Get a Lawyer’s Help for Confusing Child Custody Orders

When a child custody order is confusing, it’s best to get legal help. Following only your interpretation of the order can lead to trouble. And if the other parent isn’t following the order because of confusion, get legal help too. Your attorney can protect your interests and your relationship with your child.  Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.157.htm

https://texaslawhelp.org/article/clarifying-visitation-orders-answers-common-questions#toc-2

Visitation During COVID-19

When co-parents plan for the time they’ll spend with their children, they typically don’t think of the unexpected. Sometimes global events beyond our control change things very quickly, and it leaves parents wondering: What does Texas family law say about visitation during coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Being With Your Child Is an Essential Activity

Many Texas shelter-in-place orders specifically allow traveling to exchange your children. It’s an essential activity. You’re not violating an order to stay at home if you’re dropping off or picking up your child following a court order related to possession of and access (often called visitation).

Generally, you and your co-parent should stick with your schedule. But, what if you’re worried the other parent may have been exposed to COVID-19? Like anything else, keeping a child from the other parent comes with risks. You could get in trouble with the court for doing it without a valid reason.

If you choose to keep a child with you instead of sending him or her to spend time with the other parent, it’s a good idea to document your reasoning and keep any evidence that could be applicable, just in case. Each situation is different, so talk with your lawyer about what’s best for you.

Co-Parenting Is Key During Difficult Times

As long as your court orders say it’s okay, you and the other parent are free to agree to the possession and exchange methods that work best for your family. So, if you and your co-parent are willing to work together, it could be a good idea to plan for what to do:

  • Agree to follow social distancing guidelines and CDC recommendations
  • Talk specifically about what behaviors to enforce, like washing hands or wiping down the outsides of takeout boxes and groceries before bringing them into the home
  • Decide what to do if a parent knows they have been exposed to coronavirus
  • Decide what to do if one parent or both parents get sick
  • Discuss how to protect other people in the child’s life, like the elderly and people who are immunocompromised
  • Discuss what do to in the event of school activity and summer camp cancellations

If you both respectfully agree to follow the same behaviors in your homes, and if you have a plan in place, you’ll be well prepared to work together to be the best parents you can be during a difficult time. 

Talk With an Attorney About Visitation and Your Rights

The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. Courts, families and their attorneys have to make decisions based on the law, common sense and a shared goal of protecting families. 

If you’re worried about your access to your child or your child’s safety, talk with the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., by calling 817-799-7125 or send us a message. Consultations with our attorneys are confidential. 

Source: https://texaslawhelp.org/article/coronavirus-and-child-visitation