When you can no longer ignore your unhealthy marriage, do you wonder why you are inclined to stick it out while your neighbor has bitten the bullet and separated or filed for divorce? Is it because they live by the mantra “Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal” and they are seeking happiness for themselves in the next act? Is it for their children? Or is it financial troubles – as all the financial advisors will suggest?
According to a new survey that Sodoma Law administered among clients, potential clients, and other separated or divorced parents, the results were surprising. We learned that, despite popular belief, money is not always the root cause. Instead, the main concern was consistently how their children will fare after the decision is made.
Having been asked the question by so many: What causes divorce? Sodoma Law surveyed more than 100 anonymous men and women in the Charlotte area. We asked each surveyed to identify first whether he or she was initiating the separation or whether he or she was being forced to separate.
The top two concerns of those who actually initiated divorce proceedings were 1) children’s psychological well-being and 2) other child custody issues.
The concerns that followed were 3) losing companionship, 4) financial support, 5) damage to the family reputation, and 6) inability to afford an attorney. Indeed, seven out of ten said these factors slowed their decisions, with twenty-two percent (22 %) waiting more than two (2) years to move forward with the process of separation and divorce.
For parents on the receiving end of a divorce filing (those who did not choose to initiate the proceedings), the survey reflected similar results. The children are (or should be) front and center. The top two concerns regarding separation and divorce were again 1) child custody issues and 2) children’s well-being, followed by their 3) inability to afford an attorney and 4) losing their source of financial support.
As a Family Law attorney, it is important to recognize a client’s priority and his and her concerns. There’s no way to sugarcoat the effects of divorce on children. But when parents put children’s best interests first, the children are more likely to be resilient through the transition. It is helpful to recognize that although the parents may now be on different teams, the children are the focus for both. This parity is usually unspoken, overlooked and difficult to understand because of the emotions that exist between parents and their ultimate feelings of failure resulting from their broken relationship.
The survey also showed interesting results as to how he or she chose their divorce attorney. Most of the respondents selected a divorce attorney based on their ability to 1) trust and confide in that individual, 2) affordability and 3) the attorney’s commitment to advocating for their goals.
It is paramount to share with your attorney all that you can so that there are no surprises. An attorney cannot advocate effectively and achieve your goals with only half of the story. In addition, providing your attorney with your priorities – and not the attorney’s priorities – is also critical.
When you’re choosing an attorney, you’re putting those priorities in her or his hands. You and your attorney can be a legal team to not only reach the goals you’ve set for yourself and your children, but also to incorporate your vision into the circumstances. Life is not a dress rehearsal so make sure you are making the right decisions for you and your family by recognizing your priorities, communicating those priorities, and selecting the right attorney to be your voice regardless of who wrote the play.