Divorce is a major life decision, especially for people who have been married for years and are close to retirement age. At the Law Office of Lisa Vance, we emphasize throughout the process that the decision ultimately needs to reside with the couple. If, after a divorce is part way or nearly all the way down the road, the couple wants to reconcile and stay married, we consider it a victory for them and their children.
As couples get older, and their children become adults, they are often strong advocates for their parents. Divorce can be as challenging or nearly as challenging for adult children as it is for children still being raise by their parents. But children can also bring their own motivations to the divorce process. A child may favor one parent over the other, may regard one parent as being “to blame” for the divorce, and even as adults, might bring emotions to the table that would affect their counsel.
We recently had a case in which a person who had been married for a long time wanted to get a divorce. As we worked on the case more and more, something didn’t seem quite right about it. For one, there was a family member more involved in the process than a family member typically is. Our client’s spouse brought significant wealth to the marital estate, and this family member was particularly interested in how that was going to be divided. And, aside from that, it appeared to us that our client was having second thoughts about divorce even as the family member pressed on.
We ultimately surmised that the family member saw the divorce as a bridge to an inheritance. We counseled our client accordingly, strove to make meetings and calls involve just the client (which is typically how we do things, of course), and checked in with her throughout to make sure the divorce was something this client still wanted to follow through with.
Other family members may have similar biases – they may have not liked the spouse at the outset, or they might have fostered some sort of conflict with the spouse at some point during the marriage. Family members who might have been welcoming and even loving during the couple’s marriage might become very protective of the divorcing family member during the process.
While motivations for family members to get involved in one’s divorce might be well intentioned, they can also – as we saw in the recent case we were involved with – be rooted in personal financial concerns.
If you’re getting divorced, and family members want to get involved, it’s imperative to set defined boundaries about what you will and won’t talk about. When it comes to your finances and emotions, you want to be especially cautious – those are the two elements most critical to your case, and they are what might make you most vulnerable to the range of emotions you feel in your divorce.
Know that while family members can provide you helpful support, and we understand that, there are also boundaries that we set on your behalf. It is our goal to create a safe space for every client, where he or she can confer privately and confidentially with a lawyer and the team we assemble to see the divorce through to its conclusion. Ultimately, the decision to divorce should reside with you and your spouse – and we respect that belief deeply.