By Brenda L. Storey, Esq.
Your mom always said it. You can’t hide from your problems. You can’t run from them. You can’t escape them.
Marital problems are no different.
No one dreams of having a divorce. It isn’t on anyone’s bucket list. But for some it must be faced. So many potential new clients tell me that they have put the divorce off as long as they can, or they waited for x to occur before seeking a divorce. The “x” usually has to do with their children’s age, or grade in school, or moving on to college. Not a single one of them has ever shared that things were better while they put the divorce off or while they waited for x. Rather, they chose to endure or avoid the reality of the marriage, almost in a state of purgatory.
This is where, I suggest, introspection is really needed. What is being gained by delaying? Is there a chance of improvement? Is the inevitable just being delayed with no benefit during the delay? If the delay is for the benefit of the children, there needs to be serious review of what impact the holding pattern has on the children. So many parents naively believe that their children have been protected, and have no clue that the parents are having marital difficulties, just for the children to advise upon the inevitable notice of a divorce “It’s about time, you two have been miserable!” Worse, the children may be suffering during the stall, either directly, or indirectly because one or both parents are not emotionally available to the children while trying to endure the failing marriage.
Research shows that divorce, in and of itself, is not harmful to children. The conflict, lack of availability of at least one healthy parent, and similar ancillary parts of divorce are what pose risk to children of divorce. These risks can be avoided by proactive effort, including obtaining support from a therapist.
The job of the divorce lawyer is not to tell a potential new client whether to get a divorce, or when. Those decisions are the decisions of the party. Consulting with a lawyer can help, as can meeting with a therapist. It is usually not an easy decision, but the truth is that none of us can run away from problems. At some point, we must address them.