What Divorce Lawyers Do Wrong

Today, something a little different.

Usually, I’m talking to people who are contemplating or in the midst of divorce or who have experienced divorce.

Today, I’m talking to the divorce lawyers. I have some important things to say. What I’m saying is more than important, it’s critically important.

You have a lot of power. Your clients come to you and look to you for leadership at one of the most emotionally difficult and pivotal times of their lives.

Many of those clients will have children. Children that did not ask for this to happen to their family.

Your stated job is to help your client and do what your client wants, I get that. But there is something more here than that. Your extra job, whether you admit it or not or like it or not, is to protect the children to the extent you can.

What in the heck does that even mean, in real terms?

It means when your client tells you that their husband was 10 minutes late bringing the kids back two times in a row, you say “I hear you’re upset, but in the grand scheme of things, 10 minutes doesn’t matter much. Take some deep breaths and understand that when you mutter under your breath in front of your kids about their father being late, it hurts your kids. Your kids are half your husband and half you. Anything you say that dogs their dad, dogs them.”

It means you do *not* say to your client “Oh, let’s file a contempt action against that a-hole, that is unacceptable!”

Protecting the kids extends to the property settlement, too. The more contentious and protracted that is, the more the kids get to hear about it and feel the tension surrounding it. And the more money the parents pay you to battle over tupperware, the less money is available for the kids’ benefit or to simply pay the bills.

It’s your job to tell your client that they won’t be fighting over $50 worth of kitchen stuff on your watch. They could replace all that stuff rather than paying you to create more drama and discord in an already messy situation.

That’s right, tell your client to forget about the blender and go buy a new one with the money they save by not paying you to argue over it. Might you earn less in fees if you discourage bickering over small stuff? Yes. There will still be plenty of work for you to do. Encourage letting go of small things and teach clients to stop and take a few deep breaths. It benefits them and their children.

Our clients do look to us for leadership and guidance during their divorces. They trust us to tell them the right thing to do. We have enormous power to effect the lives of their children with our advice. Never forget that.