California Attorney Mark B. Baer started another great discussion on a LinkedIn group I belong to entitled:
ARE THERE OTHER FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS WHO TRY AND HELP THEIR CLIENTS TO IMPROVE THEIR MARRIAGES BEFORE DISSOLVING THEM?
The answer is yes, and here were my comments in response to this discussion:
In Massachusetts the standard for a no-fault divorce is irretrievable breakdown and the party (or parties) requesting the divorce must testify under oath that their marriage has irretrievably broken down with no chance of reconciliation. Whenever I provide an initial consultation, I ask that question very seriously and slowly, emphasizing the "no chance of reconciliation." In many cases it is clear that the potential client hadn't considered their desire for a divorce from that standpoint, and in many cases they have difficulty stating that there is no chance of reconciliation.
Because of the hesitation that so many potential clients show, I always inform them that I am not in the business of ending marriages, but rather in the business of helping dissolve the business partnership of a marriage when spouses have already come to the decision that their marriage is over. I am also not trained as a therapist, and so I recommend that if they are not sure about their decision, that they consult with a therapist either individually or as a couple before deciding whether to move forward with a divorce.
Any attorney that doesn't ask that question, in my opinion, doesn't understand that the role of a family law attorney is different than in other areas of the law. We have to be sensitive to the fact that the decisions and positions we help advocate for have impacts far beyond the courtroom, both on the emotional well-being of our clients, and especially on their children.
- Justin L. Kelsey, Esq.