No fault divorce has been in place since the 1970s and is currently recognized in all fifty states. This type of filing allows couples to obtain a divorce without having to prove that adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or other legally defined causes happened during the marriage. But a new effort by the Texas Republican Party is underway to end no fault divorce in the state of Texas. This would potentially be a major shift in the way divorce is handled in this state—shifting from an arrangement where couples can file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, to an arrangement requiring a “fault” to be found before a divorce would be granted.
The opposition to reinstating fault based divorce stems from a concern regarding how the changing of the law would impact alimony and child support payments. Opponents are also worried that with the added difficulty of having to establish fault in each divorce suit, parties and certain lawyers may be incentivized to falsify evidence and create untruthful accounts of the relationship, which would lead to a longer and more costly divorce process.
The Republican Party believes that the disadvantages of no fault divorces pale in comparison to the advantages that would come from requiring fault in court. They are hopeful that this change would allow couples to look back on their relationship and learn from their mistakes, leading to better communication, more understanding and less co-parental struggles.
From a Texas divorce attorney perspective It CAN be difficult, but by no means impossible-to prove fault grounds- provided of course, the grounds are supported by facts. I take exception that some opponents to the bill cite that it can be presumed that divorce lawyers will allow false evidence into the Courts. Certainly there are some in this profession who may be dishonest, but most of the Texas bar is composed of honorable individuals who take their role as officers of the Court very seriously and would not allow falsehoods to be presented as truth- even to obtain a divorce. On the otherhand, there is no doubt that the bill would lead to more intensively fact based cases which certainly would create more lengthy and expensive legal battles in court. But the Republican Party may see this as a positive outcome because the increased litigation cost could create a further disincentive for couples to get a divorce.
Although this proposal would potentially change the way divorces are handled in the state going forward, it’s important to note that no fault divorces still remain legal in Texas, but this proposed change would make them more difficult to obtain.
Most people known that in the United States, Divorces occur in about 50% percent of first-time marriages. But did you know that statisics show that for subsequent wedding vows, 67% of second marriages, and 74% of third marriages end in divorce? Why do second or third marriages fail so often?
You’d think one would get ‘better’ at the whole marriage thing with more practice. And whatever happened to third time’s a charm?
With each waltz down the aisle, surely the bride and groom both think- “this time I got it right, this is the real thing, this is unshakable, this the marriage that will beat all odds..”
But even if you picked right, sadly the deck is stacked against you from the get-go. Turns out, there are many reasons why second and third marriages fail. If you are contemplating remarriage, be aware of these stumbling blocks.
Why Second and Third Marriages End in Divorce
1. Been There, Done That, and Survived
If someone has been through a divorce once, and knows they can make it through this tragic, life-altering ordeal, then maybe they're less terrified of going through it again when the you-know-what hits the fan. The thought process might be “I’ve done it once, lived to the tell the tale, and can survive it….again.” They may also be more inclined to run at the first sign of trouble.
So, it’s not that one gets better at marriage with every marriage, it’s that one gets better at divorce with every marriage.
2. Divorce Baggage
Having been through a wrenching emotional experience, one might be wary of fully opening their heart to a new love.
Someone may think they are over their divorce, but deep down, at the subconscious level, their wounds are still raw.
A fear of intimacy- getting too close- leaves them scared of giving their all. Vulnerability reminds them of the pain from the divorce.
Always expecting the worst, being a ‘Debbie Downer’, with doomsday around every corner is not healthy for the new relationship. A "glass-half-empty" attitude can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Carrying the same emotional baggage, and pain, from one relationship to another is without a doubt, poisonous. Sometimes divorcees get TOO set in their ways of independence, especially if they have been divorced for a long while. If someone's not willing to fully merge their life with yours, the marriage will be difficult to sustain. Make sure everyone going into the new marriage is emotionally healed, healthy, and really ready for a fresh start.
3. Marrying for The Wrong Reasons
Feeling lonely, or feeling like one just can’t hack it alone, can lead to hasty decisions. Reentering into coupledom, without clearly thinking things through in a mature manner, sets a marriage up for failure. Rebounding is quite common, as the attention from another suitor can be very intoxicating. But running from one relationship to another, without giving it proper time and assessment is dangerous.
Once the infatuation wanes, the reality of the relationship may not be as rosy without those rose-colored glasses.
4. Not Enough Time Spent Getting to Know Someone
It’s important to get to know someone in ALL aspects of life before marrying them.
No one is ALWAYS the best version of themselves, and it’s important to see someone when they aren’t at their best – see how they handle stress, criticism, bad luck, tough times, rejection, and failure. How are they are resolving problems dealt to them not just by themselves, but dealt with as a couple? Without taking the time to see the whole person – the good, the bad, and the ugly – one won’t get the chance to properly evaluate their new mate before making a major life decision.. Like marriage. This applies equally to first marriages and every marriage after.
5. Kids as the Common Glue
Perhaps the cement holding a 2nd/3rd/4th marriage together isn’t as strong. Marriage, historically and as an institution, was mainly intended as a structure for raising offspring. Since most subsequent marriages don't produce children, there is no common glue binding them together.
Couples won’t be as inclined to ‘work it out, for the children’s sake’ when things get rough. Many often sacrifice their own happiness and stay in a (first) marriage way past its expiration date. Everyone knows at least one couple who waited until the kids left off to college to divorce.
As hard as kids are to raise, and as tough as they can be on their parents, they act as a stabilizing influence in marriage.
Furthermore, without children in common, the element of family is not as fundamental. So, the desire to keep the family together is not as strong.
Simply put, there is less at stake in allowing a marriage to dissolve when little children hearts aren’t a factor.
6. Second Marriages come with Stepchildren.
While children act as binding agents in first marriages (even rocky ones), stepchildren are often the dissolving agents in subsequent ones
Children from a prior marriage make subsequent marriages even more complicated. The more children the more complications.
Learning to live with other people’s children isn’t easy,
Plus, children often harbor resentment for their parent’s new spouse and will go out of their way to make things difficult. This is the "evil step-mother or father" syndrome. Children heal from divorce at different rates, some faster and easier than others. Many fantasize about their parents getting back to together for years. They mourn the loss of their family and often aren’t welcoming to new step-parents or step-siblings. They view them as obstacles to mommy and daddy getting back together.
Furthermore, stepparents usually don't have the power to be a disciplinarian, and find themselves in the difficult position of having to bite their tongues. They often feel walked upon by their partner’s children, disrespected in their own home, with not much they can do about it.
It takes patience, time, and intense communication to make the new, blended family run smoothly.
7. The Ex-Factor
Then there are exes to cooperate with. So basically, as more and more characters join the blended family, the crazier the circus gets. Juggling these relationships can cause problems and generate animosities, further complicating the new family dynamic.
Some exes are less than thrilled to see their ex enter a new marriage—and when they hear of it, it brings to the surface unresolved emotions.
Some angry exes continue to drag their ex-spouse back to court for various (often petty) reasons long after the divorce is final, just because they can. And these especially crop up when their spouse marries again.
Some exes may thrive on attempting to sabotage your new relationship every chance they get. These off-the-wall, ill-intended actions do cause serious emotional and financial strife in the new marriage. Even worse, they may use children as a ploy in combat against you and your new partner …yes – it’s very sad, and yes – very stressful.
8. Money Matters
Money is often an issue in first marriages but becomes even more pronounced in second/third marriages due to child support and other financial obligations. Money and resentment go hand in hand in second/subsequent marriages, and can especially feel the strain when money is tight. And issues only compound when bringing in debts you didn't help create.
In general, money matters tend to bring out a lot of ‘feeling’ in people. Maybe one spouse harbors resentment that much of their new spouse’s money is going toward child rearing expenses for children that aren’t theirs.
Many couples contemplating a second marriage don't have honest and frank discussions about these issues because they seem petty or unfair at the time, but small unresolved emotions and grow into large resentments over time which will drive a wedge between the couple.
9. Complicated Family Matters & In-Law Situations
In-laws, and extended family in general, are difficult enough. In-Law relations, family past and present, become especially challenging in subsequent marriages, particularly when both spouses bring children into the new marriage. The cast of characters would include husband’s parents, wife’s parents, husband’s ex’s parents, and wife’s ex’s parents… then throw in a few shady cousins, weird uncles, and obnoxious aunts. Whose house do you go to for Christmas?
Then, two of these in-law couples could be divorced as well, adding yet another pair of in-laws. Like cells they just keep breaking off, replicating, and expanding. If one of the spouses in a third marriage has children from their previous two marriages, the mathematic variation of potential extended-family complications just boggles the mind.
10. Failure to Plan Ahead
If you are contemplating re-marriage, it’s best to go in bright-eyed and but also with your eyes opened wide. Be wary of these many pitfalls and deal with any issues head on. A great way of avoiding a lot of these pitfalls is having frank discussions with you intended second or third spouse BEFORE you tie the knot. Set common goals and make them specific. Speak with your accountant and set up a financial plan for your new family. A great way to gather your thoughts together and be sure you have agreements BEFORE they become problems is to develop a PRE-NUPTIAL agreement with an experienced family law attorney.
There is a lot of speculation among experts about whether divorce rates will increase after the pandemic is over and once the courts open up and become fully functional. Many couples choose to avoid dealing with their marriage problems but with recent social distancing, are being forced to interact and engage with each other in different ways now that they are stuck at home together. They're having to engage each other without the prior distractions of work away from home and socializing away from home. For good or ill, couples are having to deal with each other now more than ever.
If there has been a lack of meaningful time in marriage relationships, there are fewer and fewer excuses to avoid your partner. In some cases this may be just the right medicine needed for a troubled marriage. In others cases, the pandemic may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. In many cases stay-at-home orders are further destabilizing at-risk marriages.
COVID Divorces Are Already Trending UP
We are all dealing with much higher stress levels due to the strains of financial, physical, and emotional impacts of the pandemic. There is a growing body of evidence to show that spending more time together in close quarters, can increase the chance of divorce. In other countries who reacted to the first wave of COVID-19 with weeks of strict lockdowns, a spike of record high numbers of divorce filings were the result. And although it is debated whether we are now in a second wave of COVID-19 or if we are only seeing one prolonged wave, there is no doubt that domestic situations that are already at risk of divorce, are only going to get worse as the lockdown continues. Here in League City, Texas during the pandemic, we are seeing more people asking for information about getting a Galveston county divorce or a Harris county divorce. But the question for each couple will be whether they have reached an emotional point of no-return.
Your Emotional Bank Account
Some therapists refer to a couple's relationship like a bank account in which emotional deposits are made and emotional withdrawals are taken. If the couple are depositing loving thoughts, then their emotional bank account is high and they have good feelings towards each other and a healthy marriage. However if they are not meeting each other's needs, or are making bad relationship choices, then with each argument or disappointment, they are making an emotional withdrawal from the bank account.
Many people are facing literal financial ruin as the pandemic eats away at their savings and resources. For the majority of these people, they were already living paycheck-to-paycheck with very little savings for emergency situations. Now that the pandemic has stopped or slowed their paycheck, they are experiencing financial ruin. This is very similar to the effect of the pandemic on their marriage relationships.
The Pandemic Is Forcing the Issue
Even during the best of times, many couples live in quiet misery in loveless marriages. They do so because of social or financial pressures they feel they will have to endure if they get a divorce. They live joyless lives in a broken marriage with little or no savings in their emotional bank accounts. Many are simply biding their time until some event happens when they think the situation will be right, such as when the children leave the home, or when they retire. But they have been able to endure this unhappy existence up to now due to distancing themselves from the other spouse and filling their time with distractions such as going off to work or social interactions with other people. This so far has relieved the tensions of interacting with the other spouse. Now however under the quarantine, the tension is constant and unrelenting. They cannot get away, and there are few distractions.
You Have Choices
If you are in a marriage relationship where the emotional bank account is running very low, then you must decide if the marriage is worth the investment it will take to revive it. Then you must convince your spouse to make the same investment. If you both want your relationship to remain emotionally solvent, you must take immediate and aggressive action. Just like a couple in financial trouble, you should seek the help of a professional advisor. A counselor (marriage, family, and/or individual) should be consulted and you should follow their advice. And you must make daily deposits into that emotional bank account.
However, some accounts are hopelessly overdrawn. When the emotional debts far exceed any hope to getting out of it , then you need admit that your best option for the future is to make a clean break and a fresh start. Financial debt relief is called "bankruptcy" but emotional debt relief is called "divorce". Many couples have reached this stage whether they will acknowledge it or not. If that is the case, then inevitably one or the other spouse will be seeking divorce now or in the future.
For those people, the pandemic alone is probably not the reason for divorce, but it has exasperated the situation or at the very least created an environment where avoiding the problem is not longer bearable . Most people thinking about divorce during this outbreak were already severely overdrawn on their emotional accounts before the pandemic. They are now finding themselves at a point where no amount of deposits will make a difference.
If you have reached this point and are now simply bidding your time until the pandemic ends before seeking a legal divorce, then you should think again. If you feel that you are forced to endure the current situation, then you are probably wrong. There is no telling how long the pandemic will continue and there are likely to be viable alternatives you have not thought of. If the situation has become intolerable you should seek advice from a professional for your League City divorce to help you generate ideas and options- even while the pandemic is going on.
Attorney Sean Y. Palmer has over 20 years of legal experience as a Texas Attorney and over 25 years as a Qualified Mediator in civil, family and CPS cases. Palmer practices exclusively in the area Family Law and handles Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Adoptions, and other Family Law Litigation cases. He represents clients throughout the greater Houston Galveston area, including: Clear Lake, NASA, Webster, Friendswood, Seabrook, League City, Galveston, Texas City, Dickinson, La Porte, La Marque, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, Kemah, Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park, Harris County, and Galveston County, Texas.
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