After 6 weeks of quarantine, it has become inevitable in many families that it is time to separate. And while restrictions are lifting, May 2020 will mostly remain stay-at-home. We won’t yet have regular outlets outside the home for distraction. At this point, when we are home 24/7–and home serves as office, school, day care, restaurant and bar–home needs to be a positive environment for everybody. Many couples are struggling and truly need a break. Divorce may or may not be inevitable, but to separate is necessary. Especially if there is hostility and animosity that has boiled over to the point where the children have no peace, even if you have decided to remain living together with no peace.
How Do We Separate During Coronavirus?
Despite what you may think, it is a good time to look for rentals, but you should not do it alone. Whether you are looking to rent a house, a condo or an apartment, work with a realtor. For many properties, tours are only offered virtually right now, but realtors can navigate the process for you, find options, and make appointments to get you into a property. Find a specialist in the neighborhood you are interested in; they have relationships with the leasing offices and condo buildings, and also know of furnished short-term rental options. Many owners have removed their listings from the online portals like VRBO, Homeaway and AirBnB, but they are available for lease, and you should find a realtor who can help you explore that option.
Movers are easy to schedule now during coronavirus, and they are working.
All utilities, except for internet and cable, are established online or via phone. The only thing you are really going to have to wait for in the time of coronavirus is scheduling your internet/cable installation.
How Do We Divide Our Belongings?
A separation is a beginning, not an ending. In Texas, nothing you do in separation is “final.” You can move furniture and furnishings to a rental for just the separation period and move it all back if that’s what is decided in the final divorce. You are not making final decisions now; you are trying to find peace for both of you. If you rent a furnished place, take only what you need to live in the next few months. If you need furniture, you and your spouse should agree on what to send over to the new place, because you both need to establish workable households in order to meet your separation goals during a pandemic. If you must, purchase what you need. In Texas, you are allowed to separate and spend money on your reasonable and necessary living expenses.
If We Separate, Do We Need to File for Divorce?
In Texas, there is no legal separation. You may separate and not file for divorce. But if you can’t agree on how finances will be handled during your separation or how you will handle the custody of your children during your separation, you will need to file for divorce in order to obtain a binding temporary order that resolves those issues. Once you have a temporary order, you don’t have to pursue anything further in your divorce if you both want to wait and see. If you decide to reconcile, the divorce petition can be dismissed. If you decide to divorce, you can move forward at any time. Without a binding court order, however, there is no way to enforce a custody/possession time schedule for your kids. See our Blog, Coronavirus and Child Custody, for more information about child custody issues during the coronavirus pandemic.
If We Separate Now, But Want to Find a Way to Make it Work, What Do We Do?
Once you separate and have an agreement or court order about finances and children during the separation period, work with a couples therapist to see if you can reconcile. Therapists are offering virtual sessions, and the ones that I work with report that virtual therapy may be the way of the future. It is often very helpful to be separated during couples therapy, so that you can work with the therapist without the toxicity constantly present. You each get a place to breathe away from each other, guided by a professional on how to address your marital issues. With time and space, you can see if you can make it work. If you can’t make it work, you have already separated, and tried, and know that you are ready for divorce.
Talk to A Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions about separation and divorce in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic, including guidance on how to achieve your separation goals, our Austin divorce lawyers at Lazar Law can help. Call 512-477-1600 today