Divorce is the ultimate break up. As divorce attorneys, we are in the break up business. Unfortunately, that is often overlooked in the lawyer’s office where the focus is on asset division, child support, and rotating weekends.
Sitting in an uncomfortable chair, across a conference table from a professional in a suit, he tries to explain why he is in a lawyer’s office to begin with, “We just stopped talking. She comes home from work and doesn’t even look at me anymore. I feel alone.” Absently scribbling away on a yellow legal pad, the attorney states,”So, we will file and plead that your marriage is irretrievably broken,” and then asks with interest, “What about assets?” Confused and uncomfortable talking about money when he is still coming to terms with his marriage possibly being over, the husband says,”Assets? We don’t have a lot… But, we bought our first house a few months before we married; it was our first big step together.” Silently frustrated, the attorney questions, “Who put paid the down-payment? Who paid the mortgage those first few months?” Certain he made a mistake at coming here at all, the husband replies, “I’m not sure, we sold that house a few years ago when we moved here…”
Across town, his wife also sits in an attorney’s office, in a waiting room with sounds of phones ringing, paper shuffling, and keyboard clacking circulating with the air. Her interview with the divorce attorney is much the same, “I’m just tired. I come home from work and immediately have to get dinner ready for the kids, check their schoolwork, wash the kiddos’ uniforms for school the next day. I’m tired of asking him for help. I feel like I am alone in this marriage.” The attorney perks up, “Are you’re children in private school?” Confused, the wife replies, “Oh, no, our public school requires uniforms for the elementary students.” Deflated, the attorney considers, “Well, no extraordinary educational expenses … what about after-school child care while your at work?” She respond, with some pride, “His work schedule is more flexible than mine; He picks them up from school every day, and finishes up work from home while the kiddos pla…” The attorney interrupts, “That won’t be the case once your divorced, visitation will likely be every other weekend. We need to look into what it costs at the school’s after-school program for two children each month to include in our child support calculations.” Certain she made a mistake at coming here at all, the wife replies, “Why can’t he continue to pick them up from school…”
At the end of the day, both husband and wife return home to their children. Both unsettled and uncertain. For their own happiness and sanity, they needed to break up. The love that held their marriage together eroded away over the years of financial struggles, fights, and parenting. Their marriage was over. Their break-up was certain.
The only thing they learned today was the attorneys weren’t the right fit for them or their divorce. Finding the attorney and firm that listens to the people-problems that lead someone into a lawyer’s office while balancing the analysis of what the legal system can do to untangle a marriage takes more than legal skill; it takes empathy and understanding.
If you have to find an attorney to help you with your break up, look for a family law attorney who’s able to listen to your break up story and helps you forage a path forward, focusing on what brought you to the office in the first place.