Tag: marriage preservation

Why are so many attorneys seemingly against legal separation?

Why are so many attorneys seemingly against legal separation? I truly feel in my circumstance its best for me/us. Is it because they wont make as much money? We have already started the divorce process. Can it be switched? 

I can’t speak for all divorce attorneys, and I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois (I practice divorce and family law in Utah), but I can tell you why I personally don’t like going the temporary separation route. 

Too many people divorce needlessly. Too many people divorce only to discover that their spouses and marriages weren’t their problem and/or that divorce wasn’t the solution. I support desires and efforts to save marriage. While legal separation may sound to some like a good way to “get some space” to contemplate whether one should stay married or should divorce, I’ve found that: 

legal separation tends to damage a marriage far more than fostering its survival; and  

by the time one wants a legal separation, he or she really wants a divorce and is only postponing divorce out of fear or laziness or for the sake of appeasing the other spouse or “letter him/her down easy”.  

While I am sure there are people out there whose legal separation proved that “absence makes the hear grow fonder” and helped them “wake up” and realize that their marriage is worth saving, I know no such people. 

If I recall correctly, I’ve seen one legal separation end with the couple later reconciling. In every other legal separation situation, the couple has eventually divorced. So you can see where this is going: why go to the additional trouble, expense, and emotional ordeal of obtaining a legal separation order if you’re going to end up divorcing anyway and having to go through more of the same kind of effort, wait, expense, and pain again? 

I understand the desire to give the marriage every last reasonable opportunity to survive. I understand the desire to take every reasonable effort to save it. But at the same time, I don’t see the point in pouring time, effort, care, and money into what is for most a hopeless cause. **That stated,** I would much rather “waste” time, effort, care, and money on taking every reasonable effort to save my marriage if it meant having the peace of mind that I gave saving my marriage everything I could in an effort to save it before deciding that it was not worth saving or that I alone could not save it and concluding that divorce was the only remaining option. 

Are there divorce lawyers who discourage legal separation because they make (or believe they make) less money working on a legal separation instead of a divorce? I’m sure there are. But not all of us are out to take the client for all he or she is worth (you’d be wise to ensure you don’t hire a greedy lawyer, but there are some among us who are decent, caring, trustworthy professionals worth seeking out). In my experience, if one wants to do all he or she can to save his or her marriage, then working to improve yourself as a spouse, making changes in your family environment, and giving your best efforts to some good marriage counseling are certainly worthwhile. Legal separation rarely, if ever, helps improve a marriage. It tends to weaken and destroy a marriage.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277 

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What are the most empirically robust factors that predict divorce?

What are the most empirically robust (causal) factors that predict marital dissolution (divorce)? 

I can give you my guess as to what I believe a rigorous study would reveal based upon my experience as a divorce and family lawyer for the past 25 years. I understand that this is anecdotal evidence, but here’s what I believe, based upon that anecdotal evidence, the empirical evidence would be. 

Now I realize that what you may be asking is what kind of external influences and/or what kind of behaviors may be predictors of divorce. The Freakonomics kind of stuff where someone notices people with library cards are more or less likely to divorce than those who don’t (no, this is not a fact, I’m just using this is an illustrative example of the kind of interesting factoids some people like to find). I don’t have any such observations. But I believe I’ve been practicing divorce and family law long enough to know what causes divorce. 

#1 is a tie: 

  • #1. Mental and/or emotional pathology that goes untreated, unchecked, unmanaged, uncontrolled. These are what lead to physical and emotional abuse, substance abuse, other addictive behaviors, self-harm/suicide attempt, infidelity, and many other things we often believe to be the cause of divorce when they are really symptomatic of the root cause.  
  • #1. Lack of commitment to the marriage. Both individual lack of commitment and a lack of mutual commitment. Successful marriages understand that while individual needs are important, the marriage and family is a cause bigger than each individual spouse. So many fail to understand that devoting yourself to the care and success of your marriage and family makes you a happier individual. Obviously, if and when your spouse is a dysfunctional, toxic, or abusive person, no amount of your individual devotion to the marriage and family can fix that. But two normal spouses of average physical, mental, and emotional health can achieve greater personal happiness and fulfillment by making the welfare of their marriage and family a priority. 

#2. Selfishness. Particularly, the belief that a spouse exists to serve one’s interests, and that if the spouse does not satisfy that subjective standard, then divorce is warranted, perhaps even seen as necessary, in the minds of some people.  

#2(a). Being unequally yoked. This doesn’t mean that both spouses have to do everything a marriage requires in equal measures. It does mean that each one needs to pull his or her own weight, needs to fulfill his and her duties to himself/herself and to each other to ensure the integrity and longevity of the marriage. 

#3. Myopia, impatience, inability to delay gratification, unrealistic expectations. I see many divorces early in a marriage because one or both spouses are shocked to discover that marriage has not fulfilled all of their hopes and dreams within the first few years.  

#4. Letting the cares of the world deplete your capacity to recognize, value, and do what matters most. I’ve seen many a marriage breakdown when too much emphasis is placed on what is otherwise a virtuous thing. Spending too much time at work. Being obsessively concerned with one’s health and appearance. Worrying too much about finances. Rather than bringing a couple closer together, they are wedges that drive couples apart. Sometimes violently, but in many cases they cause a husband and wife to grow apart slowly and imperceptibly until they reach a point of no return.  

#5. Marrying too soon. Being insufficiently mature. 

#6. Marrying too late. Although some believe that it is irresponsible to marry until one has achieved financial independence, it is that very independence that makes an interdependent marriage more difficult to achieve. Marrying later in life, when one is less malleable and more set in his/her ways, makes it harder to make the adjustments a happy and successful marriage requires, and makes it harder to recognize the benefits of sacrificing something good for something better in the context of marriage. 

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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True or false: Better to divorce than have a miserable life.

This blog post is in response to this question: 

I don’t think it’s bad to get a divorce. I think it’s more unhealthy to have miserable lives. — Ginger Wynn. What are your thoughts on this statement? 

This statement tries to express a valid point, but it does so in a logically confused way. 

The statement “I don’t think it’s bad to get a divorce. I think it’s more unhealthy to have miserable lives” falsely presumes that divorce will cure or prevent what makes a dysfunctional (or worse) marriage dysfunctional.  

Sometimes a marriage is so toxic and harmful as to require termination. In such cases divorce is not only justified, but necessary.  

Sometimes the trouble one or both spouses is suffering in a marriage can be remedied by divorce.  

Sometimes the trouble a marriage is causing one or both spouses can be remedied by divorce.  

But not always.  

Sometimes the solution is “mend it, don’t end it”; more often than you’d think the cure for dysfunction and discord in a marriage is staying married and working on improving the marriage, not destroying it.  

Far too often I see people divorce in the false belief that their spouses/their marriages are making them miserable only to learn, after the damage is done, that their spouses/their marriages are not the cause(s) of their troubles. They realize that divorcing only compounds their suffering. They consequently become even more miserable.  

So here is what I submit is a more accurate statement: It is not bad to get a divorce when you truly have no better alternative.  

Don’t divorce unless divorce you need to. Know that “mend it, don’t end it” is not the answer before you seek a divorce.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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