Why Do You Think You Are Getting Divorced?

“Honestly? I have no idea.”

This exchange happened years ago, early on in my career. I was taking the deposition of a man whose wife I was representing in a contested custody dispute. Both parties were pediatricians.  I recall the judge noting that they were both overly invested in their children.  It was true that they could not see the forest through the trees.  And during the divorce process they were unable to separate their needs from those of their children.

Although his wife was immensely unhappy in their relationship, he was immensely self-absorbed and unable to notice that long ago she had given up trying to communicate with him.  When his wife told him that she wanted a divorce, it took him entirely by surprise.  That is why during the deposition, many months later, he still did not understand.

Over the years, incidents like this have led me toward what would eventually become the Consilium Process. Despite the fact that I was representing his wife, I could see his pain and the fact that he didn’t know how to deal with his impending divorce. The inevitable fallout from their continuing lack of communication would do nothing to enhance their co-parenting.

Now when I begin working with a client, I take a “bird’s eye view” of the case.  After understanding the financial underpinnings of a marriage, my priorities shift to understanding my client’s personal, family and marital history.  It is only after doing that that I can gain clarity into how best to help them restructure their family as they move forward.  Despite the thousands of family restructurings I have been privileged to play a role in, no two have been alike. I need to understand where the pieces fell apart before I can offer helpful solutions for putting them back together differently.  I also need to help clients identify their new hoped for destination.

Divorce can be a win : win.  But only if we change the focus from trying to ‘win’ by getting the biggest settlement or the most time with the kids, to trying to ensure that everyone (parties and children if they exist) ends up as whole as they can after the dust has settled.

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