When I was asked by our Office Manager to do a blog about what is considered a “win” in a family law case, I had to chuckle to myself. You see, just a couple of hours earlier, I was engaged in a long conversation with one of the Judges next door about that exact topic. The judge and I were discussing what would constitute a “win.” She and I both concurred that, in a divorce case, there are no winners. If anything, everyone loses.
Don’t get me wrong, a divorce case is the most traumatic and emotional situation anyone can find themselves. This is even more pronounced when children are involved. In most cases, you have two people who, at some point in time, fell in love with each other and committed themselves to a union. Children are later brought into this union. Then something goes wrong. Now you have two people, formerly in love with each other, who now hate each other more than they could have imagined. Clients will deny that they hate their former spouse, but the truth is, when someone you loved and trusted broke your heart or destroyed your trust, it’s hard to not have intense hatred towards that person. This emotion often clouds their judgment and rational thought, making every issue in a divorce case a contentious battle.
I see this all the time. Clients who dig their heels in and fight over the most ridiculous things – the bedroom set, statuettes, TV’s, photographs, you name it. The thing is, the client’s get so bogged down into fighting with their spouse over these mundane items that they lose sight of the true prize – the children.
The judge gave a great analogy to a divorce – it is like the dissolution of a partnership. You have two people who entered into a contract. They have purchased items together and brought in “employees” (i.e. children). A dispute arises and the partnership must dissolve. Not only does the partnership have to pay off its debts and liquidate its assets, it has to ensure their employees are taken care of. This is exactly what occurs during a divorce.
If you have ever worked with me, you would know that my main focus is on the children. I constantly remind the clients to consider their children. I try to remind clients that TV’s, bedroom sets and all of those things can be replaced. Their children and their children’s well-being and emotional development cannot. Everyone says they are more concerned about their children, but bring up the living room set or crystal glasses and that same person refuses to try and work towards a settlement. Working towards a settlement would quicken the resolution of the case and make it easier for the parties and their children to move on and re-start their lives. But because of the client’s reaction towards who gets the sofa, while they say they are more concerned about their children, their actions reveal they are more concerned about that stupid sofa than what is in their child’s best interest.
Due to parties actions over ridiculous things, the children suffer. Towards the end of the divorce proceeding, if it is as contentious as I mentioned above, the children require counseling to help them cope. You see, not only is it emotional and traumatic for the married couple to divorce, it is even more pronounced when a child must witness the dissolution of the family and break up of the marriage. The more fighting that goes on, the harder it is for the children.
These statements were confirmed by the El Paso County Judge I mentioned above. She regularly presides over divorce and family actions. She too concurred that people so often lose sight of what is best for their children. She and I agreed that a good family lawyer is one who does not get bogged down in the property but tries to keep the client focused on their children. Because when the dust settles and the order is issued, it is the children who have lost, not the parties.
So if you are contemplating getting divorced and have children, please try to keep the children in mind. Forget the property – the car, the sofa, the lamp, and focus solely on your children. Because while you and your spouse may be going through a lot during this divorce, what your children are going through is amplified a hundred times more than your petty disputes.
In the end, there are no winners – only losers. So your wife got the bedroom set and you ended up with the sofa sleeper. So you think you lost. But stop and think what effect the entire proceeding had on your children. If they are now in counseling (or should be) then they are the ones who lost – not you.