Thursday, August 11, 2011

Divorce Court is Not Like the Television Show "Divorce Court"

At Kelsey & Trask, we like to tell our clients that we assist them in the process of transitioning from one chapter in their lives to the next. In the context of divorce, this transition for many is emotionally difficult. At times, there is often the urge to lash out at one's soon-to-be former spouse, and many people are drawn to the concept of "winning," or righting a wrong.

There are very few pure victories in Probate & Family Court. The nature of the legal process of getting divorced is incomparable to a criminal trial, where a defendant is found guilty or not guilty, or a civil trial, where a defendant is found liable or not liable. I have often explained to clients that "divorce court is not like the television show by the same name." Just because there is a judge does not mean that your worth as a husband or wife will be judged; no "winner" will be announced.

The evolution of no-fault divorce was meant in part to prevent having a courtroom regularly host the high-emotion conflict that one might see on "The Jerry Springer Show" or "Maury." Divorce court is disappointingly unsupportive for those looking to air their grievances against their former mate.

There are certainly instances where cases are litigated in a way that exposing the skeletons in a soon-to-be former spouse's closet is necessary. However, it is important to realize that the system of divorce court is ill-suited for emotional healing. It is designed to divvy up what the couple has and set up a plan for the children, if any, without diving into the psychology of the individuals involved unless the situation requires it.

As stated in a recent post , we wrote about how some emotional issues that arise during the divorce process are better suited for a specialist than an attorney, and we often refer our clients to someone with more training in the appropriate field.

It is important to realize that divorce court's shortcoming as a psychological healing forum means that often finalizing a divorce does not mean the end of the emotional aspect of breaking up. More times than not there is at least some residual bitterness and negativity, and dealing with these emotions at some juncture is necessary. While we at Kelsey & Trask will do everything that we can to assist in handling the legal transition, we are glad to be able to point you in the right direction if additional support would be helpful.

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