Relationship Pathology

Sometime back I was asked by a potential client… “What differentiates you from other divorce lawyers; what makes you special over some other attorney who says he practices family law?”  In response I said  that I felt that I was an excellent “relationship pathologist.”  I didn’t think much about my answer at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was spot on.    At first, my quick response caught me by surprise.  Upon reflection though, I came to understand that my answer was perhaps the most honest one I could come up with for myself at the time.  

Prior to that conversation, I hadn’t put much thought into whether there was anything particularly special about me as a domestic relations attorney in comparison to other family law attorneys.  I hold myself as being scrupulously honest, but I also know many other fine attorneys who are honest.  I like to say I’m hardworking, but to be honest I know quite a few other attorneys who, frankly, need to get a life other than the practice of law.  I also like to say I am quite knowledgeable, and I pride myself with my constant search for learning more about my craft (Kaizen), yet I know some other lawyers who are “goofy smart.”  Uniquely however, I just know I am an excellent relationship pathologist, and having that skill has made my family law practice both interesting and successful.

It is a sad occasion anytime a couple divorces; it is a death, a death of a marriage and their relationship as they know it to be.  To be of best service to my clients in a divorce I often feel compelled to examine the cause of death in the marriage.  The reason why I feel this is important is that I feel I really need to know and understand the dynamics between the parties to help them get to the end of their marriage in the best fashion possible; one that is both expeditious and economical and also with the least amount of acrimony, if that can be had given their circumstances.

I must admit there have been times when conducting a “marital autopsy” that I can’t help but look at the struggles in my own marriage.  For the most part, I have an absolutely wonderful marriage to my wife of 14+ years, and yet, there is hardly a day that goes by without some sort of struggle or extension of effort to compromise for the betterment of the union.

I admire people willing to commit to what it takes to make a marriage work.  Unfortunately, I also know from my work that many marriages end, if not most marriages end, for a variety of reasons. Just as each marriage is unique; as unique as the individuals in it, each divorce is unique.  I find the study of how any relationship has died to be fascinating, and I think it helps to make me a better domestic relations attorney.  I hope it makes me a better husband too.


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