There’s one pointed question I routinely ask my clients at the outset of representation: “Do you know who benefits most off spouses whose hatred for one another is the guidepost for their divorce?” The answer is usually obvious to them as soon as I’ve posed the question. The lawyers.
I met recently with a woman who’d gone through years of bitter litigation to rid herself of her husband. She'd rid herself of a quarter million dollars in the process. Only now was she coming to me for advice when she had no more resources to give. Can you imagine emptying your retirement and your kids’ college savings because you were unable to set aside the rage you had towards “the Other”? I’m honest with people when I say that the last thing I want is for my clients to give me everything they spent their marriage building just because the person they once adored became the object of their ire. Simply put, the most expensive thing anyone can do when going through a divorce is to let bitterness towards their partner lead to a downward spiral of endless jabs, right hooks, and retaliation. You’re both bloodied in the fight.
In this light, a primary goal in helping clients resolve a domestic matter is to offer them a new perspective, one that perhaps only a collaborative approach to divorce can bring. It may be unlike anything you’ve heard before concerning divorce. But it’s worth exploring, I assure you.
In a word, I believe quite paradoxically that the peacemaker trumps the pugilist. And I want to help my clients see, that by exercising the principle of peace, they can move on and be the better for it, both financially and emotionally. I want them to know that a divorce built on a foundation of reconciliation can mean a new chapter that is deeply more fulfilling in life. They may even have their retirement intact. Go figure.
Take a look at the hyperlink below to learn more about my story and my process in directing clients:
There are multiple tools a family law attorney has at his disposal in reaching a client’s legal objectives. I’ll explore and briefly outline over the next few posts various methods a lawyer might use to effect his aim. In this post, I’ll address the course likely most familiar to people—a formal lawsuit.
The filing of a lawsuit in a divorce matter (i.e., a complaint filed at the courthouse involving judges, motions, orders, and the like) does not, in itself, mean that a protracted and expensive process is in offing. There are times when a lawsuit is simply one component of the divorce process. (But, remember, it’s not always a requirement). When a client finds herself in the midst of a lawsuit, or is contemplating that possibility, a good divorce lawyer can use a prospective or ongoing lawsuit as a tool for reaching a hoped-for resolution, even an amicable one. It is also quite possible to use the court system without enormous attorney costs or unbridled emotional fallout. A good and thoughtful lawyer will always use litigation carefully and as a strategic part of an overall divorce game-plan.
Put simply, litigation is one of many legal tools at a lawyer’s disposal but not always necessary (some might say it never is). When litigation is used wisely, however, it need not lead to a client’s emotional and economic undoing. A creative use of the court system by way of formal litigation may very well be the best solution to a broken marriage.
In the next post, I’ll highlight for readers a basic litigation framework and the various steps involved in the process.
When I meet with folks thinking about separation and divorce, I always try to impress on them the good in furthering their own happiness and peace in life. Many times, that’s making the tough decision to move on from the person they thought they’d be with for life. Surprisingly, I’ve discovered the happiness-and-peace-in-life approach to lawyering is a fairly controversial one. Some call it selfish; others call it sinful. Frankly, I don’t care. Doing the things that promote self-care is, arguably, the highest good. (As an aside, the Bible says something along the lines of loving your neighbor as yourself. If you can’t love yourself, that doesn’t bode well for your neighbor!)
Truth is, there's a great deal of inertia to overcome in facing a prospective divorce. On the one hand, your heart tells you to move on and start over. On the other, your logical mind steps in with its unmitigated barrage of counter-attacks. It reminds you that your desire for happiness and contentedness in life is selfish. It states propositions often difficult to counter rationally. It may replay those voices you’ve heard all your life: “The Bible says divorce is wrong!” “What will my parents and friends think of me?” “How will I start over?” I appreciate Louis C.K.’s thoughts: “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married, and they just had a great thing, and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times.”
In all honesty, relationships should not be that hard. If you’re finding yourself in a marriage that’s a constant strain, leads to recurring anxiety, fighting, bickering, and drama, perhaps it’s an indication it may be time to move on. I always applaud people who have the courage to leave the safety of the familiar in an attempt to forge a happier path into the unknown. And divorce is certainly an unknown.
It takes courage to talk to someone about divorce, to admit things aren’t working out at home, and to start the whole process of carving out a new (and better) life. The unknown is undoubtedly the more challenging path than the oft-trod path of the status quo. The latter offers little resistance, is safer, familiar, and promises exactly what you expect: continued misery.
It’s time to embrace Louis C.K.’s precept that divorce is always good news!