COVID-19 has impacted all our lives in more ways than one. From waiting in line at the grocery store to restaurant and school closures, and travel restrictions, we have all had to make adjustments to our way of living. Our new normal requires us to wear masks, wash our hands after we go outside, work from home (unless you are deemed an essential worker), and say goodbye to typical ways of greeting one another.
COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders are still in effect in most states, although the state of Texas has begun to slowly re-open. Governor Abbott’s Open Texas Plan kicked off in June and allows most businesses to re-open at 50% capacity, with some exceptions. Unfortunately, for couples looking to finalize a divorce in court, courthouses remain closed. So, the question that begs to be answered is: Is it still possible to get divorced during COVID-19? The short and simple answer to that question is: yes, yes, it is.
In fact, divorce proceedings are one of the few big life events that have not slowed down during COVID-19 thanks to teleconferencing and videoconferencing. To learn more about how to file your divorce during this uncertain time, our team of attorneys have included an informational guide below to assist you and your spouse.
Items to Consider When Divorcing During COVID-19
With stay-at-home orders keeping separated couples together and domestic abuse cases increasing in some states, it is easy to see why more couples are filing for divorce right now. It is possible to go through with a divorce proceeding at this time, however, there are some factors you should take into consideration before you do so.
How Will COVID-19 Affect My Case in Court?
Most, if not all, courthouses are closed at this time, except in the case of an emergency; however, courts are still working hard to ensure that cases are addressed in as timely a matter as possible. Some courthouses have been proactive and started to host hearings via teleconference or videoconference.
While you will most likely not be given the chance to show up at a physical hearing in a courthouse, you still have the option to file for your divorce virtually. Some courts are allowing paperwork to be e-filed and then completing the divorce over a video conference.
Will My Case Be Delayed?
As courthouses have shut their doors, you will see a delay in the processing of your divorce case along with your spousal support and child custody application.
How Does Child Support Work Right Now?
Local child support offices are currently transitioning to a virtual model in order to provide services for families during COVID-19. Physical child support offices are currently closed to customers and visitors, but services are still available via teleconference or videoconference.
Will My Federal Stimulus Payment Go Towards Child Support?
Federal law mandates that if you owe more than $150 in a public assistance child support case or over $500 in a non-public assistance child support case, your stimulus check will be used towards the amount of child support you owe.
You can learn more about your child support requirements and their impact on the federal stimulus payment by reviewing your state guidelines or asking a local attorney.
What Can I Do If My Child Support Hearing Has Been Postponed?
If you were granted a hearing and it has been rescheduled or delayed for the time being, you can still attend a virtual hearing. Contact the Attorney General’s Office or your attorney to assist you with this process.
Know Your Local Divorce Rules
Another bit of advice we have about processing a divorce during this time is to ensure you understand your state’s local divorce rules and regulations. State rules vary when it comes to granting a divorce. In the state of Texas, certain requirements must be met to file for a divorce, including:
- Either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing.
- Either spouse must have resided in the county where the Petition was filed for at least 90 days.
- You cannot file a divorce while one spouse is pregnant. You must wait until the baby is delivered (even if the baby has a different father).
Legal Grounds for Divorce in Texas
There are two types of divorce available in the state of Texas: fault and no-fault divorce.
A fault divorce is defined as finding a fault with your spouse. You must prove that your spouse has done something wrong.
There are several grounds for fault divorce in the state of Texas, which require the filing spouse to prove that his or her spouse was responsible for some type of wrongdoing. The most common divorce fault grounds are as follows:
- Felony Criminal Conviction
In a no-fault divorce, both spouses are not at fault, so no blame is assigned to either individual. You do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong to file a no-fault divorce, however, you will have to explain the grounds for the divorce.
No-fault divorces have grown in popularity in the state of Texas over the years as these types of divorces do not require a specific reason as to why the marriage did not work out. However, a couple still needs to explain to the judge why they wish to go through with their divorce. Grounds for a no-fault divorce include:
- Living apart
- Confinement in a mental hospital/mental disorder
If you need assistance navigating your divorce during COVID-19, contact our office online or give us a call at (254) 221-8588 to schedule a consultation with our team.