29 May An emotionally healthy divorce in New Jersey
by Jeralyn Lawrence, Family Law Attorney, Lawrence Law
One of my hardest jobs as a divorce lawyer is managing an angry and bitter client. It always troubles me when a client demands that I get them justice or retribution through the divorce process. It is generally a difficult conversation and contrary to every stereotype believed by the client. Justice is not always, and dare I say not often, achieved in a divorce.
A client seeking justice, retaliation or revenge is sure to leave the divorce process extremely frustrated and angry. They will also leave broke both financially and emotionally.
Have the Right Attitude
The greatest gift a client can give himself or herself is to enter the divorce process with the least amount of anger and bitterness. I am not saying you cannot be angry or bitter or seek to ring the neck of your spouse. Rather, hire a therapist and work out those emotions in a therapeutic process, not in the divorce process.
What I know for sure is that the best divorce is an amicable divorce reached without protracted and extensive court intervention and where both parties feel as if they lost something to gain something. After all, the test of a true compromise is if you feel like you gave up something to get something.
As you prepare for your divorce, it would serve you well if you deleted from your vocabulary words like justice, punish, spite and revenge. In every instance where you can take the high road and not get into the sand box with your spouse, take the high road; even when you feel like screaming. When you reflect on how you conducted yourself through the divorce, you can be proud of how you acted. If you have children, they are sure to benefit from being sheltered from unnecessary controversy and drama.
There are some clients who thrive on chaos and drama. They need the fight. They need the drama. The divorce process is a very frustrating one for them and very expensive. Eventually the process wears on them or bankrupts them and some semblance of reasonableness is forced to creep in.
Time for Fighting
I am not saying that there are not situations where you will need to fight and to take an aggressive stance. When those situations arise, it is important to take a reasonable stand and present a strong attack.
However, in the end, the goal for every client should be to find peace, closure, and a settlement that works, perhaps even if not entirely.
Jeralyn Lawrence is a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung. She also serves as Second Vice President of the New Jersey State Bar Association (slated to become President in 2022), is the Past Chair of the Family Law Section of the NJSBA, and serves as Second Vice-President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She can be reached at or (908) 645-1000.
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