When faced with a question about divorce or family law, people often turn to an attorney they know personally. The problem is that there are few attorneys well-versed in family law. Typically, the best thing a non-divorce attorney can do in this situation is refer the individual to an experienced professional in the appropriate state. Most individuals, however, will press attorneys for some basic answers, at the very least. With that in mind, here is a primer for non-divorce attorneys who do not regularly practice family law.
- I think my spouse is having an affair. What should I do? This question comes up a great deal, and the response is not so obvious. This is where an attorney needs to be a good listener and to listen closely for clues about the couple’s relationship and what else is going on. Are their children being affected? Is the person taking proper physical and mental care of himself or herself? After listening, the best course of action is to tell him or her that family law is a very specific topic and direct the individual to a few attorneys he or she can speak to.
- My spouse is having mental health issues and it is affecting our marriage. Mental health is replacing adultery as the most common reason for separation and divorce. Diagnoses affect people at various times in their lives, and without proper appreciation and treatment, they often lead to words and actions that cannot be taken back. If approached with these issues, a dual recommendation is often the best approach – one to a mental health counselor and another to an experienced divorce attorney. If you do not know a qualified mental health professional, contact a divorce attorney, as they tend to know the best — and worst — in the industry.
- We are drifting apart, and I think divorce is on the horizon. The closer you are to the person seeking your help, the more direct you can be. Asking plainly whether he or she is still in love with his or her spouse is usually the first step to a productive conversation. The next step is to provide a reference to a great couples counselor. If you do not know one – again – highly experienced divorce attorneys often do.
The answers a non-divorce attorney can give often depend on his or her relationship to the person asking the question. It is typically best to ask gentle, probing questions without being too invasive. Align yourself with a qualified divorce attorney, who is willing to speak to and/or email you, so that you can help the individual move forward.
Most people know someone who has gone through a divorce or a similar family law matter. It is often the most difficult time of their life. Treat them with honesty and compassion. They will thank you for it later.
SIEGELLAW offers comprehensive solutions to the most challenging family law matters. Call us at 410-792-2300 or fill out the form on this page to request additional information.