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Lawyers and the Perils of Divorce


by Izzy Kalman (October 2004)

I have met countless people who have gotten divorced yet continue to be tormented by their ex-spouse. They were miserable in their marriages and expected their divorce lawyer to free them from their shackles of misery. Surprise, surprise! They may have divorced their spouse, but they did not divorce their misery.

I imagine that most mental health professionals must have made the same observation. It can’t be that I am the only one who has discussed life with divorced people. So I am always surprised when mental health professionals begin the divorce process actually expecting that life is going to become easier once the divorce lawyers do their magic.

Miserable relationships don’t end just because miserable marriages end in divorce. Especially when there are children involved, the couple is going to have to continue to deal with each other because of visitation and money issues. Often, the couple hates each other even more after the divorce than they did before. Once lawyers are involved, hostilities escalate. I don’t know if it consciously affects the way lawyers work, but intense, protracted conflicts are in their interest because that’s how they make their money. As I often say at my seminars, if you are having difficulty getting along with your spouse, and you find out your spouse went for help to a lawyer, do you think, “Thank God things are going to start getting better now!” Of course not. When your spouse goes to the lawyer, that’s when the war REALLY begins.”

I can see how ordinary people may believe that divorce is the light at the end of the tunnel. But what is the excuse of mental health professionals?

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