Occasionally in our office, we consult with new clients who question whether or not they really should get a divorce. They aren’t sure if their marriage is ripe for such a drastic measure. After all, divorce is new to them, and they have no barometer to tell them when the storm in their life requires them to take cover. It kind of reminds me of our fickle Texas weather.
If you’ve lived in Texas long, then you know tomorrow may not be what the meteorologist on this morning’s news said it will be when you were sipping your coffee and getting ready for work. And having lived in Tornado Alley nearly all of my life, even though you can rely slightly on what the prediction will be, you have to be alert and watch the signs around you. If swirling clouds are all around you, pay attention and take appropriate cover. My dad would always look at the cluster of gauges hanging on the wall in our house, paying particular attention to the barometer. He was checking to see if there was a big dip in pressure to know for sure if a tornado was in our midst. Now, I have no idea if that works, but he insisted he could always tell.
I feel like clients are doing the same thing when they present in our office for an initial consult. “Should I get a divorce?” is not a question your attorney can answer. Only the client can answer that. As the lawyer, I can advise how to prepare, what steps to take, when to put up certain shelters, and what the road may look like if the divorce does happen. But I simply cannot answer that paramount question. I can agree that a divorce may seem appropriate under the circumstances, and I can say that grounds exist to legally justify a divorce, but the call is not mine to make.
Under the Texas Family Code, Section 2.501(a) requires each spouse to support the other spouse. So when you are going through a rough time, remember your duty to support your spouse. Often we consider only the failure of the other to support us, but this duty runs both ways. I always run through the mutual duty scenario to help determine where my clients fall. If they need to be more supportive of their spouses, then they need to try this before heading to the divorce alter. The Texas Family Code speaks mainly to financial matters in this section, but it’s not much of a stretch to consider the other relationship supports that are often needed in a marriage.
The big question, then, is usually much more clear, and clients can much more readily make that ever-so-important decision: Should I get a divorce?