During an initial call, a prospective client tells me: “My husband is very powerful and well-connected; I am afraid that he will outsmart my lawyer. I need a pit bull to fight for me in this divorce.”
Another client asks: “I don’t want to share custody with my wife, and I need very aggressive representation. How aggressive are you?”
It is probably not a surprise that many people who are faced with a divorce – particularly if they are not the ones initiating the divorce –feel betrayed and angry. Often their first impulse is to “get even” and “destroy” their spouse and to “win” the divorce. It is very important to understand that this initial desire to find the most aggressive divorce lawyer is not a sign of strength but rather a manifestation of deep fear and anger.
Much has been written about the parallels between divorce and death. In fact, many people actually experience divorce as death – of a relationship and of hopes of a desired future.
Writer Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has described the five stages of grief when one is dealing with death. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. The person who is facing divorce goes through these same five stages. While during the first stage of denial the person is often paralyzed, in the second phase anger and resentment will likely mobilize the person to consult a divorce attorney for the first time. It is during this stage of anger that the person may feel he needs an attack dog as his divorce lawyer.
But will choosing a divorce attorney and taking action from this place of anger and resentment be in the long-term best interests of yourself and your family? How can you ensure that you are making the right choices if you are enraged by the circumstances which have caused your marriage to fail?
- Try to get some perspective on your feelings, rather than acting from impulse. The most helpful resources will likely be a skillful therapist and an experienced divorce lawyer who can guide you through the initial raw emotions and formulate goals that are truly important to you. Try to distinguish between acknowledging your feelings and acting from them.
- Give yourself time and identify the long-term goals that will matter to you in the future. Divorce is a process and you need to overcome feelings of anger and resentment before you can make carefully thought-through decisions that are in your and your children’s best interests.
- Be strategic in your thinking and before you take actions. Together with your attorney develop a step-by-step plan that moves your focus from anger to finding creative solutions for securing a better future for yourself and your children.