One of the core tenets of my practice is that people need to be very thoughtful and very intentional about how they are going to go through the divorce process. If they don’t want a big nasty fight, then they need to take the steps necessary to avoid a big nasty fight. If they want to fight, so be it; that can be a valid choice. But that needs to be an intentional choice, not something you fall in to.
The point is that you don’t want to fall into a certain kind of divorce by accident. You want the tone, tenor, and structure of your divorce process to be the one you and your spouse choose, not the default process of your attorneys.
But to do that you have to start with the end in mind. What kind of relationship do you want to have with your spouse down the road? What kind of relationship do you want to have with your kids down the road? What kind of relationship do you want your kids to have with the other parent? Do you want to stress your kids out when they are planning their wedding because you and your ex never healed? Do you want to lose out on time with your kids and grandkids because they have to divide their family time between divorced parents who can’t be in the same place? Do you prefer to fund your children’s college or your attorney’s children’s college?
I think these are the concepts that the divorce attorney to the stars, Laura Wasser, is touching on in her recent interview about the new movie Marriage Story.
In discussing a character’s super aggressive divorce attorney she says “If you don’t want to end up like these people, and have somebody like this representing your spouse, you ought to really think carefully about how you embark upon the road to divorce.”
She goes on to describe the trend of divorcing couples finding more peaceful and reasonable ways to get through their divorce: “I definitely think that, in the last five to ten years particularly, we have seen a shift in terms of more divorcing parties going to mediation, communicating more effectively…joining communities, reading things, getting educated about the process”.
Part of the reason for that is the fading of the misconception that aggressive and attacking behavior helps a client’s cause. She says she doesn’t recommend clients “…exercising bad behavior as a way to get ahead. I don’t think judicial officers find that to be something that’s worthy of being rewarded.”
Laura Wasser is just one attorney but she’s an attorney who deals in many cases where privacy is paramount, there are big financial issues at stake, and emotions run high. If she is telling her clients to be very thoughtful about their divorce process and to keep the end result in mind when choosing a process, then perhaps that’s good advice for everyone else.