IS YOUR CLIENT STRUGGLING TO DEAL WITH THE DIVORCE?
There’s no way around it: divorce is an emotionally charged process for the spouses, especially if children are involved. This often means that family law attorneys have to be part-legal counsel and part-therapist, and helping your clients manage their emotions isn’t always easy. Some clients are better than others at overcoming their emotions in order to get through the relevant legal issues.
When you have a client who can’t seem to do that, you may need to use tools in your arsenal other than reason and common sense. Otherwise, you could end up spinning your wheels as you try to help your client get through the divorce with the best outcome possible.
Recognizing the client who’s struggling emotionally
Following are three of the most common indicators that your client’s behavior could actually hurt their case:
- Refusing to move forward/longing to live in the past
- An expressed desire to punish the other party
- Failing to respond to your communications
After working in family law for any length of time, you have more than likely seen these behaviors on more than one occasion. It can help to sit down with the client to explain that their reactions are normal, but approaching the divorce from a heightened emotional standpoint will probably not result in a settlement that provides a secure start to a new life.
Recognizing the emotional impact of child custody issues
Most clients can (eventually) detach their emotions from the property division aspect of the divorce, but when it comes to their children, the emotional impact is often overwhelming. You’ve undoubtedly seen how the following behaviors can have a negative impact on a client’s case:
- Speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the children
- Undermining the other parent while with the children
- Using the kids as messangers
- Disrupting the custody schedule
- Engaging in reckless behavior that ends up being documented on social media
Parents generally want what’s best for their children, but facing the reality that their children’s lives will be forever changed is difficult. In many cases, the client needs to be told that the anxiety and heartbreak are normal — and that these feelings will pass. It’s also possible that focusing more on how to make the process easier for the children will help relieve the parent’s anxiety, mend the heartbreak and get your client back on track.
Your client needs to know there is a life after divorce, even a particularly complex dissolution.
You handle divorces every day, and you know that they end and people move on afterward. In the throes of the process, your client may not see that. By reiterating that there is a life on the other side of the process and that the divorce won’t last forever, you provide your clients with something to look forward to — an end to the chaos they feel like they live in right now.