By Dodie Sachs
If you are reading my post, chances are someone you previously trusted enough to create a life with has done something significant enough that you are ending that relationship, or they have decided to end your relationship with them. You are dealing with the death of a relationship: a marriage, a committed relationship with a significant other, a co-parenting relationship. You need to find a therapist you like and see them regularly. This is just as important as finding a good, experienced attorney that you trust. Your attorney is your guide through the legal system. Your therapist is there to help you move on from the death of this relationship. As I have said many times before, your family law attorney is there to help you create the best future for yourself possible. You can’t have your best future, if you haven’t healed from your past and don’t know what you want out of your future.
The biggest reason that people come back to me after their initial proceeding (divorce, legitimation, paternity case, etc.) is because one party never moved on from that case. One or both parties is still hanging on to anger and hurt feelings from things that happened before or during that first case. Since they can’t move on, it colors all their interactions with the other party, and the parties make bad decisions that impact their children or their prior spouse/ partner, and those bad decisions cause further legal battles.
Making the decision to go to therapy is not an admission that you are the one that did something wrong or that something is wrong with you. Making the decision to go to therapy is an admission that you need someone to talk to that can help you navigate through the emotional issues you are having. Even when you have resolved your emotional issues, if the other person has not, it can be very difficult to know how to communicate with them. Maybe the other person in your family law case has serious mental health issues. Therapists can help identify the other person’s issues and teach you skills to cope with and effectively communicate with the other person. Once you have worked though these issues, it is easier to focus on the logical resolutions to the dispute. This is the area your attorney should excel in.
In family law litigation, it is important to be the bigger person, as this makes the best impression on the judge and other court personnel involved in your case. Many decisions are left to the judge’s “discretion;” this is a legal term that means that there isn’t a strict rule for how the judge should make a decision, and the judge has to use their best judgment to make a decision based on the evidence and conduct of the parties. When you have consistently been the bigger person, you have a distinct advantage over the other party to your case. In order for this to be possible, you have to have resolved your emotional trauma. Go find a therapist you like. A therapist is cheaper and more qualified than your attorney to help you deal with the emotional trauma of family law litigation.