The “Run-of-the-Mill” Divorce: The Myth and the Reality

Just like there is no “run-of-the-mill” marriage, there is no “run-of-the-mill” divorce; both simply do not exist. Every marriage faces its own unique ebbs and flows, and various complex issues, including, but not limited to, children, in-laws, sex, and finances. The distinct features of any marriage also, in part, relates to the two personalities within the relationship.

On the other end of the spectrum, in the realm of divorce, individuals on the brink of, or in the midst of, a divorce also encounter unique matters that are anything but “run-of-the-mill”. The prevalence of certain characteristics and personality traits of the spouses, whether those characteristics are positive or negative, will be magnified and will play an intricate role in the divorce process.

Each Divorce is Unique

In addition to facing the loss of the marriage and an uncertain future, people involved in a divorce face the often turbulent process of the divorce itself.  The process of a divorce is impacted by an array of issues the complexity of which are not always dictated by one’s financial status or whether there are children involved in the proceeding; but, rather often by the personalities of the parties, the lawyers and the relationships amongst those same people. Because divorce is a highly personal matter, nothing in divorce is ever standard, save and except the mandated procedures dictated by the law.

An experienced family law attorney will acknowledge the varying complexities and unique particulars of each case they handle and should never sit back and define the case as “run-of-the-mill”. A family law attorney, together with their client (the party to the divorce), should analyze the various legal issues, the personality traits of the other spouse, what led to the breakdown of the marriage and thus the divorce, and create a strategy that addresses the uniqueness of the matter.

It is commonly known that divorce often brings out the worst in people, partly from the trepidation and fear people may feel in having to create a “new normal” or the fact that this change is not by choice but instead out of necessity (i.e., due to an addiction issues or because the other spouse wants to leave the marriage).  Each case has its own individual dynamics, just like every person is individual and unique.

Any lawyer (or judge) who refers to a divorce as “run-of-the-mill” diminishes a client’s emotional state and devalues the importance of the varying issues in the case which are frequently multi-dimensional. While there may be commonalities between cases, just like human beings, each case has its unique characteristics.  For example, there are cases that involve a spouse’s addiction issues, or propensity for violence; other cases involve mental illness. In some cases, the parties saved for their retirement and are able to support their financial future, but others have nothing left — surviving on credit cards, and own a residence that is “underwater”. Perhaps there are issues surrounding custody and visitation of the children, or the alienation of children by one spouse from another. Now, compound these scenarios with an angry and hostile spouse, or a spouse that will lie, falsify pleadings, or inhibit transparency in their financial disclosures. The factual and legal possibilities are nearly endless, and each possibility makes every divorce particularly remarkable in its own way.

Divorce Strategy Should Be Customized

A good, qualified family law attorney should understand, empathize and advocate on behalf of their client, acknowledging the uniqueness of each case and of each client. The family law attorney should take into account the personalities of the parties, and the relationship of the parties, while simultaneously understanding the opposing counsel and the judge assigned to the case.  The attorney should then use this information to customize the divorce strategy to effectively resolve the case, whether through litigation or mediation, in light of the uniqueness of the case.

A family law attorney (or a judge), that merely refers to the divorce as a “run-of-the-mill” case does a disservice to the client by undervaluing a process that marks a true rite of passage, and even a personal milestone in that client’s life. A divorce, like a marriage, is truly a life changing event. Akin to a marriage, each divorce must be looked at with a fresh eye, and a keen awareness by the family law attorney of how, in light of the particulars of that specific case, the best resolution may be accomplished for their client.