I meet regularly with clients who are just beginning to contemplate divorce, and clients who have been contemplating divorce for months or even years. One may have already moved, opened his own accounts and told his spouse he is filing for divorce. Another client may have told no one but a best friend that her marriage is in trouble.
No matter where a person falls on the divorce readiness spectrum, a big part of that first meeting is to have a frank discussion about the legal aspects of divorce: How long will the process take? How much will it cost? Must we appear in court or can we reach our own agreement? I listen for the big issues of contention: Are there kids involved? Will there be battles over custody or parenting time? Child support? Are there assets or debts which must be divvied up? Does the spouse want a divorce? Spousal support? Who is most motivated to push forward with a divorce or to seek reconciliation? I help formulate a legal strategy that is personalized for the client so that she can meet her particular goals.
While I thoroughly cover the legal aspects of divorce, there are other parts to the divorce process that as a lawyer, I don’t handle, but that are essential for the client’s well-being. I study books and other resources on handling the divorce process. It is important that I am able to point them toward other resources to guide them in the practical as well as the emotional realm.
A particularly helpful book is Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford. Divorce need not be a terrible end or failure, says Ford, but a “catalyst for an extraordinary life.” She discusses laws of the universe (e.g. acceptance, surrender, forgiveness) and how they impact divorce. She explains that the breakdown of a relationship can be a great learning opportunity and a chance to heal.
I encourage anyone at a crossroads in their marriage to read Spiritual Divorce or other similar resource (and seek counseling) to help guide them through a process that is fraught with emotional and logistical turmoil. With solid legal representation and emotional, mental and spiritual guidance, a person is well-equipped to handle the divorce process and come out on the other end unscathed, and maybe even happier.
Robert (Bob) Good has practiced law in Jackson County for over twenty years, specializing in family law, estate planning and business law. Contact him at his Ashland office at (541) 482-3763.