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Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand about your Divorce!

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By:  Alyson Falk

I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked whether so-called “COVID divorces” are a real thing. The answer is a resounding, “YES!” As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I think one reason for the felt increase in divorces is that people of all walks of life are realizing—life is short; there’s only one life to live; and there is no good reason to stay in an unhappy marriage.

Locally, we know that divorce filings are up from years’ past. In part, this is related to the population growth of our community in the Greater Austin area. Many of these filings are done by unrepresented litigants (“pro se” parties). We haven’t received a report indicating what percentage of these pro se cases may be uncontested vs. contested matters, but I’ve already written to you about the need to consult with an experienced family law attorney even if you believe your case is uncontested. You can find that blog here.

It seems that while some of us are ready to get a move on to the next chapter of this great life, some of you out there are burying your head in the sand and avoiding the reality that your spouse has filed for divorce. You are doing so at your own peril!

Things that can happen in your family law case without your participation:

  • Your home can be sold.
  • Your assets can be awarded to your spouse.
  • You can be ordered to pay debts you never expected to pay.
  • You may lose conservatorship or possessory rights to your children.
  • You may be ordered to pay monthly support, which can be withheld by your employer without your consent once a Court order has been obtained.

For a divorce suit to ever be finalized, you must first receive proper notice of the lawsuit. If you have not been properly served, then the matter cannot be finalized. However, if you happen to be evading service, or if the other party legitimately does not know where you are, there are other ways to ensure you are legally served.

If you are doing everything in your power to avoid being served, you should invest in a meeting with an experienced family law attorney right away to discuss the reasons why you may be trying to delay or prolong the lawsuit so you can better understand your rights and possible outcomes of your case. Remember:  Texas is a no-fault state, which means that a divorce will be granted if the other party requests it…whether you like it or not!

Many unrepresented parties sign a Waiver of Service to avoid being served in person with notice of a lawsuit, but are still unaware of what may happen in the divorce case after they sign the Waiver. If you have signed a Waiver of Service, meet with an experienced family law attorney right away to ensure you have not waived any important rights, including the right to be notified of future hearings in your case.

The bottom line is that your divorce case may be resolved with or without your participation. If you learn that your divorce case has been resolved without your participation and you either do not like the terms of the order or you believe the matter was resolved improperly, meet with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible because there is a very limited time to address these circumstances (usually only 30 days from the date the Decree was signed).

The best course of action is to meet with an experienced family law attorney as soon as you learn your spouse has filed for divorce to understand your unique circumstances and rights, and to make a plan to get yourself through the divorce and on to the next chapter of your great life!

If you have questions, let the experienced family law attorneys at Lazar Law help you make sense of it. Send us an email or call 512-477-1600 to schedule time to talk with us.

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