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Do divorce lawyers help spouses reconcile?

Do divorce lawyers help spouses reconcile?

Interestingly, divorce lawyers are required, by law, to discuss with the client the possibility of reconciliation and the availability of marriage counseling.  In fact, in every application for a divorce, the lawyer acting on behalf of the client must certify that he has complied with this requirement.  

Then the divorce judge is required to satisfy herself that there is no possibility of reconciliation of the spouses and, if at any stage in a divorce proceeding, it appears to the judge from the evidence or the attitude of either or both spouses that there is a possibility of the reconciliation of the spouses, the judge is then required to adjourn the proceeding to afford the spouses an opportunity to achieve a reconciliation.  

The judge may even appoint a marriage counselor to assist the spouses to achieve reconciliation.

But does this actually happen ?  

Divorce lawyers as agents for marital reconciliation

In the vast majority of cases, once the client starts the divorce procedure and makes an appointment with a divorce lawyer, the decision to separate has been made and is not typically open to change.  But what if the lawyer insisted on having a discussion about reconciliation?  What if the lawyer caused the client to reflect?  

The exercise of reflection seems to me to have certain prerequisites or ingredients.  For the client to reflect, the lawyer must guide the process of reflection.  That means that the lawyer is now expected to be reflective of his role at this critical stage.  When approached by a client who is asking for a divorce, the reflective lawyer must be prepared to stop, listen and think before arriving at a viewpoint, opinion or advice.  

To some extent, this is counter-intuitive.  The client seeks counsel.  Specifically, she or he seeks guidance, direction, and advice.  The client does not seek - or wish to pay for - reflection.  However, reflection is probably the very best service that the lawyer can give the client.  

This mode of response should permit the lawyer to better examine the totality of the circumstances of the family, the factors influencing the conflict, the client’s individual challenges, the stated problem, the essence of the problem (which may or may not be uncovered) and the various options that can improve the lives of this client, family and, especially, the children.  

It can be argued that lawyers typically perpetuate the problem through a failure to reflect by operating within the (legal) system that places great emphasis on tradition, convention, and precedent.  This is indisputable.  Proponents of change are seen as contrarian, ill-informed, or even indifferent.  

Maybe if we lawyers worked harder (or were better trained) to elicit the client’s interests, we could not only achieve satisfying solutions for the client, but improve the conditions for the entire family and even (in a modest way) cause the population of separating spouses to reconsider and reverse the decision to separate. 

If, in the end, divorce is inevitable, then at least the family will experience separation and divorce in a less conflictual and more peaceful manner.

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