Henry Gornbein, a family lawyer in Michigan, wrote a recent article about the trauma of divorce for the Huffington Post. Gornbein discusses appropriately the ramifications of the threat of divorce and the actual divorce process. In reflecting on his article, I am brought back to the idea that divorce is appropriate and necessary in many cases, though all efforts should be made to save marriages that have a proper basis for being preserved. In the event that the marriage has broken down, the parties are no longer compatible, or there is mental illness affecting the health and safety of the spouse and children, or domestic violence, divorce can be a healthy intervention. The key to a healthy divorce in many cases is the Cooperative Divorce or a divorce that avoids the high conflict of ‘out of control divorce,’ and focuses on the emotional and financial wellbeing of the parties and the children.
“A divorce can be many things. It is a legal proceeding to end a marriage. Divorce laws differ from state to state regarding the requirements and reasons or grounds for a divorce. The mechanisms and procedures for obtaining a divorce differ from state to state as well. In every state there is a legal requirement that a divorce proceeding be filed to end the legal marriage between a couple.
A divorce is a weapon. It can be a legal weapon. It can also be a verbal weapon which too frequently is used by an unhappy spouse who will hurl a threat: “If you do not do this, I will divorce you.” This often is a means of control. It is also dirty fighting. Sometimes this threat of a divorce is a means of keeping someone in a marriage. To me, it is a statement that the marriage is in trouble and could perhaps end in a divorce unless the parties go into counseling.
There is also a psychological divorce. This occurs when one or both spouses finally let go of the relationship and move on emotionally. I believe that a psychological divorce is just as important, if not more important, than a legal divorce. Emotionally it is much more devastating than the legal divorce. Until both people in a marriage let go, they will continue to battle through the Courts. This will create havoc and damage, often for years to come. Long after the legal divorce is over, people fight over custody, child support, and any other issue in order to continue the psychological battle through the Courts.
Divorce is not only painful, but it can be very costly. It can be damaging. Costs and damages in a divorce depend on the complexity of the case. They depend on how angry or inappropriate each spouse is going to act. The amount and complexity of the finances and whether custody is an issue, can increase the costs and attorney fees tremendously. These are things that you should think about as you decide whether or not, and how you want to have a divorce.”
My practice focuses on difficult, complex and sometimes high conflict divorces with a child custody component. I work with difficult financial issues in divorce. I also encourage cooperative divorce strategies when appropriate. I have developed tools and strategies to manage the conflicts and stressors in divorce. If you have questions about divorce, please call my office for an initial consultation.