Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Witnessing the Demise of a Marriage

This week, I witnessed the end of three marriages-- one was a decade old; the other two decades; the third was over 30 years. None were easy, and all were handled quite differently-- one was Collaborative, the other a negotiated settlement, the third went to trial and is in the hands of a judge right now. It may surprise you to know that the most difficult was actually the Collaborative case, which involved young children.

Being a divorce lawyer is like performing an amputation, without any anesthesia. The technical side of what I must to is easy, but it actually pains me to see people struggle to figure out the reason why they are getting divorced-- something that may plague them for some time, but that the courts may not give much weight to in determining a fair division of the marital pie. While people are wrapped up in the emotions, to the professionals it is a businesss transaction, where the sooner the person learns to detach from the emotions, the better off s/he will be in terms of making sound decisions.

Some people seem to think there has to be a major trangression to cause a divorce. Those are actually rare-- more often it is a culmanation of various factors that have built up over time. A couple's inability to resolve conflict, a lack of shared values or vision for the future, repeated affronts to someone's dignity and respect, and/or a failure to communicate effectively and show one another love and consideration, all add up until finally one person finds the courage to end this unhealthy existence in the hopes of something better--- even if that means possibly living the rest of one's life in solitude.

No one dreams of getting married and then getting divorced. 80% of Americans get married and obviously hope for a happily-ever-after ending together. Unfortunately, that won't be in the cards for half of us, even when you marry your best friend for all the right reasons. Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, betrayal and/or injustice are all normal, but to remain stuck with those sentiments is not. My goal is to get people past the worst point so they can move on to a better place-- so they can start a new chapter in their lives. As my own case shows, who knows what that might bring?

If I was following the Eat, Pray, Love model, I should have only spent a year soul-searching and then found love. Instead, I defied everyone's prediction that I would be remarried by now, and it has almost become a badge of honor that I choose to stay single because I refuse to settle. Meanwhile, I surprised myself this year with the amazing discovery of the family I had always longed for and an incredible sense of peace I never knew possible. Would I opt to be in an intact relationship with Mr. Right today? Absolutely, but not if it would have meant I would miss the opportunity to now have in my life my rightful family. This is one instance where the end does now help justify the means -- the last 6 years were not easy, but the payoff turned out to be beyond my wildest dreams. All this and more is what I will continue to hope for as I help guide others through what seems like their darkest hours.

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