Like the winter flu, divorce does not discriminate across socio-economic strata.
Those of us who are attuned to family and psychological issues will first explore with potential clients what efforts may have been made to “save the marriage” if one or both parties are interested in so doing.
The second inquiry among many divorce professionals is, “Who has your spouse retained as a lawyer”? This key piece of information is one of the most foretelling predictors as to how the divorce may well proceed. If your spouse has hired the proverbial shark, then you know from the outset that you are headed for stormy waters.
On the other hand, some of us are all too well aware of the maxim that if the only instrument in your toolbox is a hammer, then everything begins to look like a nail.
The Real Story Behind “Marriage Story”
One of the ironic messages from the movie “Marriage Story” is that two people who have lost the ability to communicate are now forced into the position of having to interconnect, negotiate, and make decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives – and, if they have children, will set off a ripple effect for generations to come.
Without regard to wealth or scarcity of assets, the richness is in the ability to see beyond the pain, bitterness, and disappointment of the moment; to hire divorce professionals (think mediators, financial neutrals, child development specialists, and/or collaborative counsel); and to suppress the short-term desire for revenge in favor of the longer-view that the marriage can end with equanimity and integrity.
In fact, when I can foresee that a case will be contentious, I often attempt to deconstruct the issues into its pertinent component parts – by, for example, disentangling the child-related matters from the financial. Generally, the former is emotionally-driven while the latter is more circumscribed by facts and rule-based.
A child development specialist can help the divorcing couple remain child-centered, while the financial neutral can focus on facts and figures. The psychological message is: do not hold the child hostage to the vagaries of the financial settlement.
Rich or poor, the currency is communication. The challenge is to hire a divorce professional (or team) to help get you to the finish line with preserving dignity, civility, and – most importantly – if there are children, the priceless co-parenting relationship.
Vicki L. Shemin, J.D, LICSW, ACSW is a family law attorney, clinical social worker, mediator, collaborative attorney and parenting coordinator practicing at Fields and Dennis LLP in Wellesley, Massachusetts. www.fieldsdennis.com