I have had the pleasure to be a member of the American Psychological Association, for many years, and to devote myself to continuing graduate-level education in the psychological sciences. Just as a medical doctor might benefit from a strong background or understanding in, say, nutrition, or kinetics, I have always felt that the practice of Family Law almost requires a fundamental understanding of psychology. The article below is taken from an essay concerning a family lawyer that trained as a psychologist, and how this training has been integral to his practice.
Using his unique background in psychology, David – who has written a best-selling book called “Moving On: Redesigning Your Emotional, Financial, and Social Life After Divorce” – shares the difference taking into account mental health can make in family law cases.
How do psychology and divorce go hand-in-hand?
In Family Law, which includes divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and division of property, my clients are generally good people going through what is the hardest portions of their lives. They are not only losing their spouse, but they are losing their defined understanding of “family:” they may be losing time with their children, they are losing some of their assets, and they are losing some of their income by which they maintained their standard of living. Those are a lot of changes to get used to during a relatively short period of time. And when people go through changes, they often experience a range of emotions, from: anxiety, to depression, to anger. Things are even worse when people interpret these changes as “ego threats” – meaning they treat their failed marriage as an internal, personal failure, rather than a behavioral failure. They say to themselves: “I’m a failure” rather than saying “I’ve made some bad decisions”. So, divorce lawyers who “only” focus on the legal issues are leaving too many things unresolved and on the table.