I’ve noticed a trend in some recently-concluded cases I’ve been working on – namely, that a lot of men are frustrated in the divorce process. It’s a world in which many couples share the load in working outside the home, in taking care of the household, and taking care of the kids, but there are still traditional families in which there’s a divide between the breadwinner and the housewife.
The men I’ve worked with recently work very hard, sometimes as many as 60 hours a week, and divorce is a frustrating process for them. There’s a feeling among these men that the hours they’ve putting into supporting the family hasn’t been adequately reciprocated. In their view, they haven’t gotten enough family time, enough sex, or enough consideration to compensate for all the work they’ve put in.
And now, with a divorce looming, a man in this case realizes is a settlement involving a house and other community property assets, that there are child support payments in his future, and perhaps with the foreboding feeling that the divorce won’t end fairly for him.
While we seek fair settlements for our clients – and encourage them to work with their spouses through collaborative divorce or mediation if they can – we’re also a child-centered family law firm. Men who feel angry or frustrated about divorce certainly have the right to feel that way, but these men also need a reality check as they prepare for divorce.
And it is this: Divorce is, first and foremost, about the welfare of the children whose parents are splitting up.
If there are no children involved in a divorce, the biggest challenge will likely be determining how to split community property. But if there are children involved in a divorce, parenting time needs to be negotiated, and assets and child support need to be determined in a way to help each parent in the important task of raising their children. The children rightly become the focus for the judge hearing a litigated case or signing off on a negotiated one.
I understand how and why men react emotionally to divorce. For men having difficulty with divorce, I recommend finding a good therapist at the outset of the divorce, and meeting with that therapist throughout the divorce.
While I certainly am willing to hear my clients’ frustrations, therapists are much better than lawyers at help people work through the emotions of divorces. As lawyers, we’re best at helping you figure out what’s most important in a settlement to you, what means are available to pursue those, and then moving forward. By working on your emotions with your therapist and your case with your lawyer, you have a better chance to conclude your case sooner and focus on yourself and your children.