Blog 2: When Is It Over?
Making the decision to end a marriage is difficult. When has it been enough? When is it over? This is a personal decision. Some people have more patience than others. Sometimes there are legal reasons to stay married, even if the love is gone. Every situation is different. A family law lawyer’s job isn’t to decide when a marriage is over, her job is to help the client to the resolution of the divorce proceedings whether through settlement or trial. Going through my own divorce hasn’t changed my position on that. However, I am now, more than ever, a proponent of marriage counseling.
Many people don’t know that the divorce statute starts with a section that actually states that the purpose of the statute is to preserve the family. Sometimes families can be preserved by staying married. Sometimes the only way to preserve a family is to dissolve the marriage.
Marital counseling must work for some people. I don’t know any, but I’m sure they are out there. As a divorce attorney, I don’t really get to see the success stories of marital counseling. By the time people come to see me, it is normally over.
The court can order two parties to attend counseling. I have seen a judge do it. From a practical standpoint, however, the court cannot force both parties to participate meaningfully.
I opted to try counseling before I filed for divorce. I hoped for some kind of miracle. I hoped that the therapist would say something profound; something that would enlighten my husband and I. There had to be something simple that we were missing. We are two educated individuals who both love our son. We have mostly the same values, blah, blah, blah. . . Fix us!
When my realization that it was really over came, in an individual therapy session, it wasn’t what I wanted. There was no magic pill or touchy feely exercise that would fix my marriage. Fixing a marriage takes two people who want to fix the marriage. I found out that I was the one who didn’t want to fix the marriage anymore. I was over it. I was nearly through the grieving process already. My unhappiness in the relationship had gone on for too long and I couldn’t come back from it or, according to my therapist, I didn’t want to come back from it.
If you are reading this blog because you are unhappy but you have not passed the proverbial point of no return, do not stop, do not pass go, go straight to therapy! Do everything you can to save your marriage because divorce is really no fun at all.
Florida is a no fault state. Neither party needs a reason to get a divorce other than that they feel the marriage is irretrievably broken. Even in uncontested matters, the court will ask for testimony regarding this. The question will be asked, “Is there any amount of counseling that the court could order, that you feel could save your marriage?” How could one really know the answer unless they have tried. I personally feel that the difficult decision to end a marriage should be made by an individual after she has a grip on whether the marriage can be saved and after all attempts to save the marriage, including counseling, have been exhausted. I love helping people and I am happy to have been chosen by many people to be the attorney who helps them through a divorce but I am even happier for the folks that I never get to see because they were able to fix it.
Until next time,
Until next time,