The attorney has to spend a lot of time really listening carefully as to what they are told are the reasons for the divorce and sometimes what’s not being said. More often it’s the woman who comes to me and says my husband wants a divorce. I don’t want a divorce, I’m shocked, but I know he can get the divorce, it’s a no-fault state, but I really don’t want it.
Then the attorney has to listen to what she thinks her life is going to look like after the divorce. It’s much more empathy driven, there’s a lot more frequent contact with the clients because they will call asking me, “How do I get the lawn mowed?” In New Mexico we have a cooling system known as a swamp cooler, and you have to have that turned on and off in the seasons. They’re calling needing guidance on how to get through the day.
There are various benefits that may be available to senior citizens, either free services or reduced services for just getting through the day. Also, driving is a big issue. Is the client or the opposing party unsafe to be driving on the roads? Attorneys have to look at that as another issue.
It’s a much broader picture; it’s not strictly what do you own, what do you owe, and what’s alimony going to be. If an attorney is representing the person who really wants the divorce, say because he cannot cope with his wife’s dementia, the attorney has to talk to him about what do you think your life is going to look like. If there are adult children involved, how is it going to impact your relationship with your own adult children as well as your grandchildren if you’re the one who’s decided to divorce grandma at age 75? We look at the bigger family picture as well.
Mary Ann Burmester is a family lawyer practicing in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has more than 25 years of experience in family law. To learn more about Mary and her firm, NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC, visit www.nmdivorcecustody.com.