There needs to be a fundamental shift in thinking about the breaking up of marriage. Families would be infinitely better served if instead of looking at divorce as primarily a legal event they would see it as an intimately personal life transition that also has legal effects. This view more fully recognizes psychological and spiritual issues and focuses on the challenges that divorce creates for all members of the family. It respects the natural feelings of disappointment and fear that usually accompany this difficult life experience.
A more humane understanding of divorce puts emotional healing first and recognizes that progress in this area naturally allows for better legal outcomes. It creates a powerful framework for transforming a time of crises into one of forgiveness and positive new beginnings.
Lawyers are a necessity in the divorce process, which is unfortunate because the legal system tends to escalate hostilities in what is already a situation fraught with conflict. It doesn’t have to be that way. The goal of domestic lawyers should be to work collaboratively with each other and with mental health professionals to support positive adjustment in people going through divorce. Lawyers should become advocates of win/win negotiation and non-adversarial problem solving instead of proponents of nonproductive legal warfare.
Children should not be made to suffer because of a legal system that continues to support attack-oriented divorce procedures. No parent or their attorney would intentionally hurt a child, yet tactics routinely used in domestic legal actions often drive such a wedge between Moms and Dads that their ongoing ability to raise their kids together is dramatically impaired. This is a tragedy.
Adversarial techniques used in other areas of law are simply inappropriate when used in divorce. They invariably create ill will that lasts long past the time of the legal proceedings. A family lawyer should consider the impact of every legal action taken on each parent’s attitude toward the other and always remember that at the end of a divorce, a parenting relationship must continue. Nothing breaks a child’s heart like Mom’s and Dad’s ongoing bad feelings for each other.
Family lawyers must go out of their way to look for ways to bring harmony into a disharmonious situation to help their clients look for positive co-parenting solutions. If lawyers would strive to be peacemakers instead of hired guns everyone would come out better, especially the kids.