I have been practicing law for over 30 years. My practice is devoted exclusively to family law, so some would refer to me as a divorce lawyer. But I don’t like to think of myself as a divorce lawyer. I like to think of myself as a peacemaker.
In the context of a divorce, being a peacemaker can have different results. In a few of my cases, it has meant that in some (perhaps small) way, I have contributed to saving a marriage. But, unfortunately, that is not the usual case.
Some divorce attorneys approach divorces like they would a battle, where the other spouse is the enemy to be beaten. This approach never produces a winner and a loser; it produces two losers, often with wounds that never heal. Their scars are emotional as well as financial, and where children are involved, the wounds extend to them.
Facing the inevitable end of the marriage, some people’s first thought is to look for the toughest, meanest lawyer in town—one who will take their spouse “to the cleaners.” In my opinion, there is no greater mistake a person can make, unless they derive pleasure from draining their life savings, going into debt, or transferring their wealth (that could otherwise be used for the benefit of their children or grandchildren) to their attorneys.
Divorce is not about winning. It’s about cutting your losses and moving on with your life.
This is why I encourage my clients to consider alternatives to divorce battles, such as collaborative law or mediation, where we look for ways to help both parties to a divorce find solutions that meet their highest individual interests and address their biggest fears and concerns.
If you are thinking about getting a divorce, consider starting by finding an attorney who is a peacemaker. Better yet, encourage your spouse to do the same thing. If both of you are successful in making that your first step, you will be setting the stage for a divorce with dignity. The process will be less painful, less expensive, and it will end sooner so that you can begin healing and move to the next chapter of your life.