COVID-19 Effects on Divorce, Child Support, and Parenting Time

Has COVID-19 wrecked your parenting time plan, your child support, or your marriage? Are you concerned this might happen? If so, you are not alone.

The 3 most common family law questions we field are:

  • Can I get a divorce while social distancing and stay home/work safe orders are in effect?
  • Do I have to pay child support, even if I have lost my job or been furloughed?
  • With stay home orders in place, do the children have to be exchanged for parenting time?

Patric McCallum, principal attorney of Drew|McCallum, and Hannah Bell, a family law attorney in Austin and San Antonio, sat down and discussed these three questions in depth. Watch the video above to get all of the details and find out how our current collective reality is affecting families.

Question 1: Can I get a divorce while social distancing and stay home/work safe orders are in effect? [1:19]

We didn’t intend for the answer to be “it depends,” but it really does depend upon how cooperative and collaborative you and your spouse can be. It is possible to get divorced, but cooperative divorces and mediated divorces are the only types of divorce that can be finalized right now. Patric and Hannah also discuss the practical question of “should I file” under the present circumstances.

Question 2: Do I have to pay child support, even if I have lost my job or been furloughed? [13:19]

The really simple answer is yes, child support must still be paid. Child support is a court-ordered obligation, and you cannot jut stop paying – even when there are extenuating circumstances and good reasons. Patric and Hannah discuss several options, both legal and practical, for how to handle child support during COVID-19 if you have lost your job, been furloughed, had a pay decrease, or have a similar situation.

Question 3: With stay home orders in place, do the children have to be exchanged for parenting time? [23:58]

Stay at home orders do not override parenting plans, and children must still be exchanged according to the current possession schedule. Most of the time. Life is rarely black and white, of course. Patric and Hannah talk about personal family situations such as illness and long distance travel. Pro tip: whether or not you think your co-parent is washing their hands enough is not a reason to refuse to exchange the kids!

Watch the full video above to hear the conversation. We tried to answer each question in detail. If you have more questions about any of these topics or if you would like help resolving a problem you are having, schedule your free telephone consultation today. We are here to help.

Prefer to Read the Transcript?

Hannah: Hey guys, Hannah Bell family lawyer here with my good bud, Patric McCallum. And we had been, I guess we met online, Patric. Talking on LinkedIn, right? And supporting each other and our different content. I'm a family lawyer in Austin and San Antonio, Patric is a family lawyer in Houston and the surrounding areas. And we were just trying to bounce ideas off each other and talk about in light of the Corona crazy, like what are we hearing from clients and what are we going to do about it? So we thought, hey hang on. I bet a lot of our clients could benefit from us kind of crystallizing this a little bit with some of those main questions that we're hearing. Let's walk through 'em, record it on this whole Zoom whatever thingy, and share it. So that's what we're going to do. We're going to be talking over the next couple of days, we're going to do it all at once, but just kind of bust it up into three different questions. Those main three questions we're hearing from people with everything going on. So, first one we're going to talk about is, can I still get a divorce during the Corona crazy? Second, we're going to talk about do I still have to pay child support even if I lost my job or my salary was reduced? What do we do? And third, do my kids still have to go back and forth to the X factor's house even if my city is doing a stay at home/work safe program? What do we do? So we'll be talking about that over the next couple of days and are excited for you guys to join us. So Patric, if want to kick us off on our first question.

Patric: Absolutely, so yeah. The first question is can I get divorced right now, and the answer to that is absolutely yes, perhaps. Yes, maybe.

Hannah: It depends.

Patric: It does, it depends. Courts are moving mountains to do uncontested or agreed kind of kitchen table divorces informally without having to have a court appearance though some documents that you can submit. And so those divorces are going through. The courts are open. The courts are hearing those and handling those. If your divorce is not going to fall into that category, then you're going to have to be a little more strategic. The courts are not hearing contested matters the way they were before. They're going through all kinds of procedural changes and functionality changes on how they're going to be addressing those, so the courts are not quite as accessible as they were before. And because of that, if you're in a situation where we're not really agreeing, we're really getting on each other's nerves, this is really very toxic. You want, you know, if you pull the trigger on a divorce, you're going to get an equal and opposite reaction from your ex, soon to be ex. And that may or may not be what you want to do when you're basically in really close quarters and there's no real place for either one of you to go to get away from that. So the answer is yes, perhaps. And a lot of that is really strategy and thinking through what's really best for us right now given where everybody is.

Hannah: Yeah 'cause I think, Patric, in this space there's sort of two pieces, right? Like technically legally can I? And maybe the question of should I? So as the legal piece of this for those who aren't as familiar as us, right? 'Cause we deal with it all the time. Whenever you're getting divorced in Texas, generally the very very end, you're going to take your decree up to, it kind of depends, but like an uncontested, meaning we're not fighting about this decree, docket - one of you. And you're going to do what's called prove it up. And I was always like what's a prove it up? But essentially all that does, is you and your lawyer, one of you all and your lawyer goes up there and answers some specific questions for the court that satisfies some jurisdiction, technicality, legalese stuff. Okay. Like, have you lived in Texas for six months? Have you resided in this county for 90 days? Are there any children born or expected of the marriage? So some of those kind of questions. And then the judge says, oh okay, and they may you ask you a couple questions. They sign. Boom boom boom, you're divorced. Now, we can't do that right, because we're all stuck at home. We can't just run up to the court house and do that. So lawyers and judges are having to think creatively about how can we work around? Now, one thing that courts are doing is saying you can submit an affidavit that includes all of that information. And affidavit is spelled weird. That's a kind of weird word. But all it means a piece of paper that you swear to that says some stuff, okay? And in this instance, it would say the stuff that you would normally answer in those questions at divorce. I've lived in Texas for six months, in this county for 90 days. So, the issue - ding ding ding - that could kind of be going off in your head is: how can I get something notarized? 'Cause affidavit, oh yeah, has to be notarized. So how can I get it notarized if I can't leave my house 'cause we're staying home/work safe? And luckily for us, there's a provision in what's called the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. And that's another book of laws or section of laws that govern civil lawsuits. 'Cause us family lawyers, we usually deal in terms of the Texas Family Code and like these provisions and these sections, whatever. And we kind of live in that space. And I find all the time that sometimes people forget, look, the Civil Practice and Remedies Code also affects us. And in this instance it's super helpful because Section 132.001, so that's just like where you can find it if you Google it, it allows for an unsworn declaration to take the place of an affidavit in almost every instance. There's like a couple exceptions. And I personally do this all the time in my cases 'cause I don't want my clients having to go like chase down a notary at the bank or something like that. It takes forever. So we use unsworn declarations like for responding to interrogatories and for all kind of stuff. So, I think it should work that you can use a declaration in lieu of the affidavit piece of this in some courts are saying and maybe you can even do that, probably I'd try by DocuSign. A lot of realtors have been using DocuSign forever. We now use it for all our signatures. You could probably do an e-sign declaration and submit that and all of that goes with the affidavit, goes to the court. They take it by submission meaning we're not fighting, like what you normally go to uncontested, and then they can enter it. So that's one sort of technical workaround. If we think that we're ready to get divorced. We've already got sort of our order. We were almost done, oh my God. But all we needed to do was get the judge's signature. Don't forget that that's an option to make that piece of it happen. But I think, Patric, what you and I've talked about, you know, at length is the technical piece that's if you're already sort of pretty far down the road or pretty amenable and agreeable. The other question is, should I try to get divorced right now? I think you alluded to that a second ago. Just because you can doesn't mean you should, you know? I've learned that, I continue to learn that lesson in life. And you have to think about, look you are in super close quarters together. And it's going to be, if the divorce is not something you've already been like talking through and working, that's going to be equivalent to rolling a grenade into the middle of you're house to do this. And so I think we need to take deep breaths and find our zen or something and know that this is going to be a super emotional and volatile time for ourselves. And just because we're feeling emotional and volatile doesn't mean that we have to act in that emotion. So like this person who you had a break from 'cause you went to work or you went to the gym or whatever is all of a sudden in your grill 24 hours a day, you know, for how ever many days and weeks and months. We don't know yet. So give yourself and that person, find a place to have some grace is the best advice is like kind of get through it if at all possible. And don't take an action out of this emotional weird situation. Okay, now that said, sometimes just for whatever reason you need to do it. Like let's say you all can agree, right? So I think Patric talks about, you know, he has a lot of these agreeable clients who can like work together nicely and do this in a mature adult way. I really wish they called me instead of Patric. 'Cause most of my clients, we are like in, we are in a mess. But I think if that's possible, then yeah. I mean it takes 60, you can't get divorced until the 61st day, with some exceptions, after you file. So, if you're kind of agreeable on this and it's not going to blow up your world, you can go ahead and let the clock start to run while you're like sitting at home. Like go spend some time, you know. Go on or whatever. So I don't know, Patric, what you think about whether maybe we should do this right now even if we can technically.

Patric: Yeah, so for a lot, for most if not all of my divorces, they're really what I would call administrative divorces. That is the two of you have already sat down, you have either together or with a financial advisor, you figured out what it is that you want to do. You're comfortable with how you're going to divide stuff up and you just need somebody to help you through that process and do the paperwork and administratively divorce you. So that's what most if not all of my divorces tend to be and are and it's the focus of my practice.

Hannah: I'm jealous.

Patric: But I would say is that even if the two of you were able to get along and agree and do all of the stuff and now you're stuck at home together and the situation seems to be deteriorating. The first thing I would suggest is get in touch with a counselor, a therapist, you know, a clergy, a church, a Facebook group, something where you can reach out and you can get some needed separation and some needed help and conversation. And talk to professionals about tools that you can use to get through this. Because you don't have to do it on your own, you're really not as alone as you think you are. There are resources out there and you should take advantage of them. Google, if you just go start Googling divorce, you're going to terrify yourself. There's a lot of horror stories and war stories out there about people's, you know, terrible experiences with divorce. It doesn't necessarily have to be that way. But to do it cooperatively and to do it the way that the courts are really pushing through right now on more of an expedited basis, takes a lot of management. It takes a lot of patience. And it takes some very strategic communication skills so the two of you learn not to pick at each other and not to get on each other's nerves and really work to keep that amicable that you've worked so hard to put in place to keep it in place. So I think--

Hannah: What I think, oh sorry.

Patric: It's okay, go ahead.

Hannah: Well I was just going to say, you know, and one thing we want to keep in mind in the 'I can but should I' thing is a lot of us I know have these little people at our house who are locked in here with us, right? And they range from little tiny babies to pretty big people. You know, mine are in 7th 5th and 4th, so they're relative, it's kind of "Lord of the Flies" out there, I can actually literally hear them right now. Xbox and hollering at the dog. But, you know, those people are looking to us as their parents to make sense of the chaos in their world, right? So you as their parents, regardless of how you all feel about each other, you do have a duty to shape the narrative for them and help them through this scary thing, right? Their school is canceled. They don't get to see their friends; they don't get to make their art projects; they don't get to go to P.E. And they're looking at you to figure out why. So on one end, is your child going to think the whole world is blowing up, my house is blowing up, everything is insane, everything's terrible. And they're going to remember this time as catastrophic and awful. And the world fell apart while their family fell apart. And if starting a divorce is going to feel like that for your kids, I beg you, and I know Patric is, on their behalf don't do it. Right, like just have some unselfishness for a minute and think of them. Now if you can do it, and you know, I'd seen something online the other day somebody had asked their son, "Well why is school closed?" You go, "Well, 'cause we're out of toilet paper, "that's why school's closed." And I thought that was so cute and what a great job his parents had done. Like the worst he thought was like school's out of toilet paper. We're closed, can't go. So if you can kind of protect that innocence for your kids in light of all of this coming, I think you can do it. That's hard, right? You're getting divorced for a reason, like let's be honest. You're getting divorced because for some reason you don't want to be married to this person anymore. So that's a fine rope that in, you know, addressing this first question: can I still get divorced? In a word, yes. As Patric said, perhaps you shouldn't right now. But if you do, you know, get with a lawyer, get with a team to help you do that in a way that works best for your family. Okay Patric, that's question number one. Woo, that's a wrap. Do you want to start us off on our second question today?

Patric: Sure, sure. So our second question today is: do I still have to pay my child support even though I've lost my job, I've got reduced income, or furloughed, or whatever it is? And the easy answer is to that is yes, you're under a court order. You can't just ignore a court order. But there are things that you can do to address the issue. And the first--

Hannah: Patric, I have a little thought on this I remembered I was going to share. Because I used to watch, I think it's applicable. I used to watch Judge Judy when I was younger, I still love Judge Judy. But, and for anybody who hasn't watched it, so she'll say sometimes these litigants come in are, it's actually an arbitration I guess, I like Googled it one day to figure out what was going on. Anyways, so they'd come in and they'd be having some fight and she'd say-- No self help! And I think that's a good mantra to keep in your mind in a legal space. No self help. And what that means in this arena is, look, so you're under court order, you have to continue following court orders. And even though it seems impractical or kind of unfair, that's what the court order says. And you can't just say, "I'm not paying it. Corona's crazy. I'm not paying any money." That would be resorting to self help. So that's not the ideal scenario. You need to think a little bit more practically about how to work around that issue. So anyway, some words form Judge Judy can give us some advice.

Patric: Well no, it's great because yeah, you can't do self help with court orders. That's just not going to work. And the Attorney General's office sees those payments come in through the disbursement unit. Its computer logs those and if it doesn't see those coming through, its computer will spit out an enforcement order. Doesn't matter what you want, or your ex or your co-parent wants. The AG's office doesn't see payments, it's going to enforce at some point. And so, you know, emails and text agreements and things like that between the two of you don't, won't change that. Won't stop that, and aren't going to impact that. The attorney general's office is going to enforce. So the first thing that you should do is, is absolutely not self help. But you should file a motion to enforce, or I'm sorry, to modify the child support. Because you've got a change in circumstance that warrants that. And that's important because that is the day, when you file that, that is the day that court can go back and retroactivity change child support. So the sooner that's filed, then the sooner your remedy ultimately, whatever it may be, can kick in. The other thing I would do is I would actually be very proactive. I would reach out the attorney general's office, I would let them know what's going on, I would pay what you could. Pay something. If you pay nothing and you just say, "I'm sorry, I got nothing so they don't get nothing and that's just the way it is," courts are not going to be very sympathetic to that. Because even people that are unemployed are still ordered to pay child support at least at a minimum wage level. So you're going to want to show that you understand the obligation; that you appreciate the obligation; that you understand you're supporting your kids; that your kids are important to you. This is a way that you show that to the court. And the court is going to likely be a lot more lenient with people who are literally doing the very best they can with their child support as opposed to just, "Well forget it. I got nothing so, they get nothing." So I think it's important to be proactive. I think self help and ignoring the situation are not going to be successful. And I think the sooner you start, the better.

Hannah: Yeah, and I think, you know, we have to be practical in these sort of impractical times. That's really all we've got because we're talking about legal stuff and practical, right now we're not 100% sure what, I mean and you never can be 100% sure, I'm always fine and like first to say I don't know, but I'll do the best I can. And right now, we don't really know what exactly a court's going to do. But I think it's super good advice, get something filed. Now you want to do this as collaboratively as you can because a pop modification in the middle of this could really throw a grenade into your co-parenting with the X factor situation. So, you know, but what can happen is the court can do things retroactive to that date. And I think that's super important to get. Because at the end of this, if you say look judge, and the person you're paying child support to tries to do some sort of enforcement or the AG tries to do an enforcement, you can say, hey, let's retroactively do what's equitable or fair or just and reduce that amount until now. And now my job's back so we can go back to normal. And if you can, you know, I have some words for the people who are receiving child support. You really need to show some grace and compassion and understanding. Because, as Patric mentioned, when you're in front of the court, you want to be able to look reasonable and like you did everything you could also. You don't want to be seen as super callous and like super hard or guess what, probably the judge is going to be super callous and hard with you, okay? So you need to have that sort of understanding that you can't get blood from a turnip or whatever. And if there's no money there, you can't get the money out. So maybe, you know, one thing that I had thought of that you could do, is so say you file that modification. You could perhaps enter what's called a Rule 11 agreement and that's just an agreement between lawyers that's written, filed with the court, it's then enforceable, okay? So maybe what you could do is work with a couple lawyers and do a rule 11 agreement that is on a temporary basis. That says okay, in light of the Corona situation, COVID-19 whatever, there's been a material and substantial change temporarily. We're going to do reduce child support to this or we're going to halt child support for a period of time. And then this has no further bearing on future child support. Something like that to just get a stop gap. You could then send that to the AG and then those arrears won't collect. Because, look guys and ladies, if you just stop paying your arrears are going to accrue. You're going to log into that portal and you're going to see arrears. And then after 30 days interest starts to accrue. And then you got a whole mess to untangle. So, one way to do it is get like Patric said, be proactive be on, which is hard to do, right? 'Cause we're all just like trying to figure out life. Like it looks like I'm kind of in an office. I'm like in a weird closet room in my house that I converted to a little home office, right? Like we're all doing all kind of stuff to try to make this work. So the last thing that you want to do is file a court action but this is not one that you can just wait. It's not like fine wine, it's not going to get better in time. You need to do something. And both sides needs to do everything they can to work together. But don't just stop paying and say, "Well, I'm screwed, you're screwed, we're all screwed together," you know?

Patric: Yeah I think if you do that, if that's the position you take then you really force your co-parent into, with no alternative. If you're not going to pay and I'm really needing some level of support, understanding the situation but I still need support, then I have no other option. I have to go and I have to contact the AG. Or I have to go hire a lawyer. And I have to enforce this. I think communication if you can do it is absolutely essential. I think it's absolutely essential everybody understands the situation here. And we all agree we're all going to have to tighten our belts a little bit to get through this. I think people who are receiving child support don't want to enter an agreement that just blanket reduces it, I don't think that's fair either. But I think it is appropriate to say okay, if you are not making money and we expect this to last at least 12 weeks, 16 weeks, then for 12 to 16 weeks or whatever time period you're comfortable with, I think agreeing to a reduction is fair. But also along that same token, if the paying spouse goes back to work sooner than that, then let's just ramp things back up and let's get help going back to these kids. Because from the court's perspective, this is all about the kids. This is not about the parents. And so the court is going to co-parent, but understand that there's a change, there's this change. And the court are really looking for real, and they're looking for the two of you to work to stop this as adults, and not have everybody coming into court saying "I'm a victim." Everybody in court is a victim. There are no perpetrators there are only victims. And the court can get really frustrated with that. So you can save a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of anxiety if the two of you can just communicate about this is what's happening. I can't pay this now but I can pay this. I'm going to get this coming to you and we'll stay in touch on what's happening here. Just a little bit of that communication and a little bit of understanding will save you thousands and thousands of dollars in legal that you really shouldn't have to spend because adults really should be able to do this.

Hannah: Yeah and I think, at the end of the day I always tell my clients we want to go into court wearing a white hat. And if you're at the end of this going to find yourself in the courtroom, you're going to want to be able to say, "I did the right thing," right? "I did the best that I could judge, don't throw the book at me. Throw the book at him. He was a real jerk," or whatever. But I think that's that the best advice we can give you on whether you have to pay your child support: yes. But if you're in a pickle, do something fast to try to mitigate the damage and work with your co-parent to work through that.

Patric: Absolutely. It's not illegal to be a jerk. That doesn't violate any standard in the Family Code and lots of people are. So you just have to learn to put the jerk aside and deal with the business. Deal with this business situation and start making business decisions not emotional decisions.

Hannah: Yeah, I think that's right. And that's a good segue into our third question, Patric. Which we're talking about do the kids still have to go back and forth to the X factor's, even if my city is doing a stay at home work/safe plan. And in a word, yes. Actually just yesterday, the Supreme Court of Texas issued another one of their rulings or their orders that says suits affecting the parent-child relationship and possession schedules are not effected by those orders. So Supreme Court of Texas who is the end all be all of Family Code or family law issues in Texas, they say yes, they have to go back and forth. Now sounds easy enough, but there's some harder questions. Do they have to go back and forth if my ex is ignoring the order? And when the kids are with 'em they're going out to parties, they're, they can't go to bars, bars are literally shut down. But you know, they're out doing whatever that you don't agree with. Yes, and this goes to sort of a fundamental issue in our family law cases is, "I don't like the way my ex is doing something on their parenting time, so I don't have to let my kids go over there." Wrong wrong wrong, dead wrong, okay? What the kids do when they're with their other parent, so long as they're safe, is really not your business at all. Now in this time, safety can be like, "They're not safe whenever they go over there because he don't wash his hands," whatever. Look, court is going to have 0% sympathy and you're not going to be able to get in court on that issue. The things you can get into court right now are like domestic violence, child abuse, broken bones, bruises, you know things like that. That's why you're getting in to court, not because, "Hey, he doesn't wash his hands enough." And I mean that sounds kind of petty, but whatever. I've talked about that a little bit in the last few days. So yes, they got to go back and forth. I don't know, Patric, if you have any other thoughts on how to handle it.

Patric: Oh yeah, no. The thing that I hear a lot is well the kids have decided. They don't want to go. The kids are saying they won't go. The kids don't get to make a choice here. There is a court order, you have to abide by it. And whether they go or not is not a kid decision, that's an adult decision. And they don't have a say, they just don't. They have to go. You've got to put 'em in a car. You got to get 'em where they're supposed to be. And if you don't, a court doesn't like kids making adults decisions. A court is not going to say, "Well, if the kids don't want to go then okay. That's fine with me." That's not going to, the courts aren't going to go there. And you're opening the door for your spouse to say the same thing. So when your spouse does finally get the kids or your ex does finally get the kids, well he or she is going to say, "I'm sorry, they're not coming home 'cause they don't want to see you. They've told me." So that decision is made. It's a vicious circle to get into that. And the easy answers is no. Nobody gets a say. You have a court order. It's not your decision. It's not your ex's decision. It's not the kid's decision. The court has spoken so we have to abide by what the court tells us. And I know that there are a handful of district courts that I have seen are issuing some very stern orders and letters and things like that on possession during this crisis. And saying look if you're not going, this doesn't change your possession schedule. Period, paragraph, end of story. And if you are going to jerk your ex around on this and you do make the court come in and expose everybody to Coronavirus because of this issue. And we do have to have a hearing and I do take a chance to look at this, be aware that I have the authority to enter sanctions and I will do so. And the severity of the sanctions will be in conjunction with the degree that I see that I think that this is, the degree of ridiculousness that I see with this. So you know, courts are trying very hard in a lot of ways to try to mitigate this. And try to keep this from happening and try to keep this from becoming a log jam in their system. But the very short, very easy answer is, yeah, you need to take the kids. Now, I think that there are issues where what if my ex sick? Or what if the kid is sick? Well I think you just--

Hannah: Yeah, that's harder.

Patric: Be practical, you just have to be, but again, and it comes back to you have to communicate and you have to co-parent and you have to say, "Look, kid's got a 102 degree fever. I'm not going to put the kids in the car, and if anything I'm taking the kid to the doctor. "If you want to meet us at the doctor, great," you know. And then, but you know, those are the kinds of things that you just as parents have to work out as parents and as a team.

Hannah: Yeah and I think what I often tell my clients in the middle, especially in that window. I'm thinking of this right now a little bit like that window between when you file for divorce and when you go on on temporary orders, right? I call it the wild west. Right now we're a little bit in the wild west. And I always tell people look, laws are for law abiding people. Rules are for rule abiding people. And if you happen to be in a co-parenting relationship with someone who says, "You know what, screw them rules, I'm going to do whatever I want and what you going to do about it?" The hard reality is, a lot of times the answer is not much, right? And bad guys bad ladies, whatever, they're going to likely take advantage of the situation. You have to accept that. And it sucks so very much. And hopefully at the end of this there can be some recourse, but of you're like me a long timer, and I call us long timers this is not our first rodeo, we're going to be in this for the long term dealing with a situation of high conflict. You already know that he's going to be able to do what he's going to do and there's not a lot you can do about it. And that's the cold hard truth, and a lot times people call us wanting, "Well I need to do something. What am I going to do? "I need to file, hurry!" And the true answer is, that can get you in more trouble filing. 'Cause even though we understand and we know it's a super big deal, to the court it's going to seem like small potatoes. Because they're dealing with such a monstrous onslaught of problems. And like I said remember broken bones, bruises, child abuse, domestic violence, those sorts of issues which are truly emergencies. It doesn't mean that what you're going through isn't a big deal and a real pain in the butt, okay? But, you have to just accept some amount of suck in the middle of this. Because if they're not rule followers before this, they're not going to be rule followers during this. So like say for instance you've got an MSA that you've entered, and it has certain things that need to happen. So say you did it just about property, an MSA is a mediate settlement agreement. So say you went to mediation before Corona and you came to a deal on the property. You're supposed to sell houses or you're supposed to do certain things with 401Ks, and they're not doing it. Or yeah, I've got some where it's like we're worried about some equipment. And they're not doing what they're supposed to do about the equipment. Well, the true answer I have to tell my clients is let's, you know, you get more flies with honey. I'm trying to work nice with the opposing counsel to resolve it, but otherwise we're just kind of stuck for a little bit. We have to have patience. So that's the same thing with the kids going back and forth. Some of this for some of you in chaotic situations is not going to feel fair and that's because it isn't. But there's really not, 'cause remember no self help. Judge Judy told us. And we're not going to be able to do much about it right now. Just try to be the calm that your kids need. Try to take care of yourself. Do the right thing. Like if nothing else, you got to be able to sleep at night, and you want to go into the courtroom with a white hat. So continue to have that guiding principle. I got to be able to sleep at night and act accordingly, I think, in situations. So--

Patric: I think that's right. I think that, you know, your relationship with your kid is up to you. The quality of that relationship is up to you. Time and possession isn't a competition. Someone who gets 52% or 53% is not going to be a 3% better liked or better loved parent. Kids don't work that way. They do a little bit of that when they're teenagers because you know, it's teenagers. But generally speaking, that's just not the way it works. And if you can be the calm and you can be the resource that your kids need and not be the drama in their life or part of the drama in their life, then they're going to have a better relationship with you. And that's really where your focus ought to be: what can I do to make things easy and calm for my kids and shield them from, as much as I can from, you know, all the other stuff that's going on is really where the focus for parenting and what the court's are going to be looking for is really where that is.

Hannah: Okay, well I think that's a great way for us to end. So Patric, thank you so much for your time. This was way fun despite some of our technical difficulties that we started out with. But guys we talked today about our three questions, can I still get divorced? Yes, but. Do I still have to pay child support? Yes, but move quickly if there's no money. And third, do the kids still have to go back and forth to the X factor's? Yes, they do and there's not much around it. So if you all have any other questions or things you're seeing from your clients, lawyer friends, or people with just questions about how this is all going to look in your family, comment, send us a message, send us an email, whatever. And we'd be happy to talk about them some more I think. Right, this was kind of fun.

Patric: Oh yeah.

Hannah: We look forward from hearing from you all. All right, thanks everybody.

Patric: Thanks everybody.

Our Guest for this Video

Our guest for this video is Hannah Hembree Bell. Hannah is the founding attorney of Hembree Bell Law Firm, PLLC where she focuses her practice on family law, divorce, and estate planning. She is dedicated to helping people navigate tough family matters with genuine care and compassion. Hannah handles divorce, custody, and family law cases for clients throughout Travis County. Her estate planning and divorce coaching practices are offered statewide.

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