Many people ask what it’s like to work in the practice of law where you help people get divorced, and divorce lawyers are sometimes viewed as advocates of divorce. In reality, though, many divorce lawyers, and certainly those at this firm, prefer to be understood to be “family law attorneys,” because they are family advocates and believe strongly in maintaining the marriage, if it can happen, and in any event in allowing the spouses and their children to minimize the pain of a family breakdown. This is a major reason that attracted Doug Sanderson, for example, to become trained also as a collaborative law attorney. The sad truth that family law attorneys face is that by the time a person is ready to seek legal representation regarding marital issues, the marriage is almost always irretrievably broken, and all that is left is to help the client get through the numerous legal components of a divorce, which is the first step in beginning a new (and hopefully happier) chapter of the client’s life.
If divorce has become your only real option, you need a skilled legal professional whose focus includes family law to guide you through the legal processes. Clients are often surprised to learn that their attorney can also be a great resource for reading materials that may help make the emotional part of the process a little easier. One such resource is a book is entitled Making Divorce Work, by Diana Mercer, an attorney and mediator in California. Ms. Mercer acknowledges that by the time clients decide to hire a lawyer, the love has been shredded and too much damage done for a rebuilding of the marriage, and outlines a course of self-examination where partners might learn from their mistakes, in order for them to be stronger, smarter and kinder people as they navigate their way to a new (different) relationship with their former spouse, and as they enter into new relationships.
John Gottman, Ph.D. is a well-respected psychologist and marriage researcher who reports that an unhappy marriage can increase your chances of becoming ill by 35% and take four years off your life! His web site contains numerous resources for improving a marriage, including a good true-false test that focuses on the spouses’ attitudes to each other. Gudrun Zomerland, MFT, provides a wonderful analysis of one of Dr. Gottman’s books on conflict in marriage, stating that conflict can become a major problem if it becomes characterized by the presence of what Gottman calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:” criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling, which she summarizes in her analysis. The American Bar Association also gets into the counseling arena with numerous guides to clients, for themselves and even their children, that we have available, among other resources.
If you find yourself in need of a family law attorney, we invite you to contact Doug Sanderson, at (703) 934-1122.
Disclaimer: This firm only offers legal advice to clients, and the facts of a particular situation usually drive the legal advice we give to clients. This message is not intended to be legal advice appropriate for all situations, nor to encourage providing confidential information prior to the written confirmation of an attorney-client relationship.