When will my divorce be over? I don’t Know.
Why is he doing this to me? I don’t Know.
Why is he doing this to the kids? I don’t Know.
When will he realize how wrong this is? I don’t Know.
Why does he think he can get away with this? I don’t Know.
Why doesn’t he care? I don’t Know.
The truth of the matter is that we us lawyers can only answer a very few and specific things for you. As for the bigger picture issues as to whom you thought your spouse was or has now turned out to be; why he or she can’t cooperate and do the right thing; why he or she can’t be mature; why he or she can’t “let things go”- these are things they just don’t teach you in law school. I often wonder how on earth I could do this job without having gone through a divorce myself.
During these types of question sessions all I really have to offer is my own life experience. I tell my clients that they simply cannot change their spouse. I remind them that all these upsetting behaviors are just a different version of the same behaviors that led to the divorce in the first place-like the time he bought himself a motorcycle with the kids’ savings account monies, or got so drunk at a party that he passed out on your friend’s kitchen floor, or cursed out your mom, or didn’t make it to the hospital in time for the birth of your first child, or poured a glass of wine in your face, stopped talking to you for six months, or one of so many countless inconsiderate, hurtful and humiliating episodes. I think you are starting to get the picture. These unpleasant walks down memory lane are just about as futile as the questions above.
It’s frustrating for me as an attorney to often respond with “I don’t know,” but in truth, it’s the best and most honest answer they will ever get. When I’m feeling more brazen I might even confess that in the legal system no one even cares. My clients really hate it when I say this. I have one client who now catches herself when she starts going down this road and says, “I know, I know, no one cares!”
I suppose I could fuel the fire and remind them exactly why their spouse is such a self-centered, unreasonable and insane jerk, but what good would that really do? Often times as the observer I get to see that my client’s spouse is about ten times worse than the client even realizes, having spent years married to him or her and gotten used to it. Sure, I could spend a whole hour or even afternoon talking about someone’s spouse, but no, that won’t get you divorced any sooner, won’t get you extra money, and in fact, will only cost you!
It pains me to see a client beat him or herself up over these types of questions, and even worse, spend hundreds of dollars talking about it to their lawyers. And here is another painful truth, most lawyers don’t really want to hear it anyway but will gladly listen for hours on end if that is how you wish to spend your legal fees. So the next time your lawyer says “I don’t know” or “rudely” cuts you off, or tells you he or she doesn’t want or need to hear this stuff consider yourself lucky; he or she is just being honest and saving you a lot of time, grief and money!