When I was a young boy growing up in the city, a gang of older boys decided to make me and my best friend fight each other because I was white and he was black. They formed a large circle around us and taunted my friend and I into fighting by shoving us into each other hard. It was the kind of twisted cruelty you find when people make dogs fight and bet on the outcome. My friend and I never even really argued, so the idea of us fighting each other made me sick to my stomach and we wouldn’t do it at first. But these larger boys had come to see a race fight and they were persistent. After what seemed forever, we were both bruised and a bit bloody from slamming into one another, when my friend started to lose it. He took a desperate swing at me and the crowd of boys went wild like sharks that smell blood. The older boys thrust us now at each other at collision speeds, and my best friend finally snapped. He started attacking me like an animal that had been beaten so much that everything that came too close seemed life threatening. He hit me several times hard, but I would not retaliate. I could not hurt my best friend just to entertain these jackals. In order to stop the violence I grabbed my friend and restrained him so that he could not move. I did not hit or harm him. The cruel older boys got frustrated and bored at this and dispersed at last. I never forgot that incident.
Today I work in a profession where divorce attorneys push husbands and wives, who may also be mothers and fathers, into each other every bit as hard as those cruel inner city kids did to my friend and I. But divorce lawyers do it not for entertainment so much as for profit. I know first hand that even the best of bonds can be stressed and compromised when antagonists from the outside scheme to pit two parties against one another. In a divorce, two people who have been best friends for many years are suddenly faced with the loss of that partnership and the immediate diminishment of their overall intimacy. It is a vulnerable place to be. Family law attorneys have in large measure become predators to these circumstances.
I have no issue when those who intend to harm the other party in a divorce proceeding get discouraged to do so by legal intervention. I am actually grateful for skilled legal action that serves to protect the vulnerable, powerless and disenfranchised from being abused by bullies and malevolent relationship tyrants. But truly these cases are rare in family law. Many, many times I see clients from Sonoma and Marin Counties come into my office expecting a fight because that is what they are so used to hearing happens in a divorce. Then they are surprised when at a Go Divorce Clinic intake I do not fuel the fire, or feed the drama. They are relieved to find that I am not taking sides and that the meeting is a safe and well intentioned one that is seeking to help them both find the best way through their current situation.
A recent client just informed me that his daughter is going through a nasty divorce with lawyers at the same time that he is processing his own divorce through my office. He has depleted $18,000 dollars of his own money contributing to the lawyer-driven divorce of his daughter’s legal fees; currently at about $30.000, and there is no end in sight to her battle with her husband. My client marvels at how by contrast that in a few weeks time he and his wife can have a sane and reasonable divorce for a flat fee of $2500.00 through Go Divorce Clinic. Why can’t his daughter and her husband do the same? It’s not because his daughter and her husband are crazy people, it is because the traditional divorce process they chose to use in my opinion is currently not equipped to handle cases that are not adversarial – so the family law attorneys tend to make wars out of the marriage dissolutions that get brought to them. Like the bullies that tormented my friend and I, fighting is what they know and provoking confrontation is what they do.
You may think that an uncontested divorce is not for you. That it is only for the granola munching, progressive, peace-nicks who somehow find a way to love their enemies all the time and turn the other cheek with routine regularity. Not so. I would say that 90% of all divorces could be handled as uncontested, with the remaining 10% of contested cases reserved for those wealthy enough to spend half a million dollars arguing over several more millions of dollars just because they can, or in cases where someone would actually use a divorce proceeding to punish the other out of spite. I am not so idealistic that I do not recognize that some people have a specific agenda to hurt the other person explicitly. It’s just that those instances in my experience may be 1 in 90 cases, and when they show up in my office I send them off to lawyers where they belong.
Someday soon I know that the tide will shift, as Go Divorce Clinic continues to prove out that there is a sane and humane way to end a marriage that preserves the resources and dignity of those moving through the transition of divorce. If you would like to learn more about the Go Divorce Clinic difference visit our website at: www.GoDivorceClinic.com