In a previous article, we discussed some strategies for potentially keeping the cost down in a divorce, and one of the key ways to do that was to make sure you try to keep discussions with your lawyers to legal matters. That’s not to say that emotions won’t sometimes find their way into conversations you have with your lawyer throughout the divorce, and we’re definitely here to lend a shoulder to cry on when the occasion calls for it.
But it’s important to keep in mind, as you go through the divorce process, that your lawyer is not your counselor. Ideally, as you go through your divorce, you should have both a lawyer and a counselor.
There’s an obvious financial incentive to pay a counselor rather than a lawyer to delve into the emotions of divorce, as a lawyer’s hourly rate is typically more expensive than a counselor’s hourly rate. But there’s a more important reason to heed the advice that your lawyer is not your counselor: The training they have and the work they do is distinctly different.
Your lawyer is there to guide you through the legal process of divorce. It’s natural to want to talk through emotions as you’re going through divorce, as they’re often very powerful and very profound. And at the outset, it’s useful for your lawyer to know how you’re feeling, how you feel about taking on the conflict of litigation vs. the negotiation of an alternative dispute resolution method, and what you want out of your divorce. Any good family lawyer knows and is prepared for the emotion that can come with divorce.
But what a lawyer can’t do as well as a counselor is help you through the stages of grief and the healing process that happens in any divorce. Counselors are specifically trained to work with clients on their emotions and their personal development, to listen, to empathize, but also to move forward.
Working with a counselor can be challenging, and it can take a number of hourly sessions to make breakthroughs, but many who seek counseling during divorce come out better equipped to live their post-divorce lives. We’re a group of lawyers who want you to have fantastic post-divorce lives, but by the nature of the work we do, our focus is on the divorce itself, working to give you the assets and the parenting schedule in a settlement to anchor your post-divorce life.
What you do once you get that settlement is up to you. We are, of course, happy to recommend counselors to you should you seek to work on the emotions of divorce as you’re going through divorce. Of course, we’re here to listen, and we understand the need to occasionally vent when the divorce process becomes frustrating. But it’s important that you assemble the people on your team who can best address the various components of a divorce, and focus your conversations with your lawyer on getting to settlement.