How to Manage the Psychological Side of Divorce in Legal Proceedings As a Lawyer
Family law is a rewarding field in which family lawyers assist their clients with everything from divorce and spousal support to child custody. While your job is to take care of legal proceedings, you must also manage your clients’ emotional reactions and psychological responses that often threaten to derail even the most straightforward cases.
While the law should always be your primary focus, the inability of some clients to compartmentalize their emotions means you must also have an understanding of psychology. The more you know about the human psyche, the easier it might be to bring your cases to a successful conclusion.
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Steps To Handle The Psychological Side Of Divorce
Managing The Most Common Emotional Responses
Family law firms like GDH Family Law frequently meet with divorcing couples who are angry, scared, and confused. However, these feelings don’t always present on a surface level. Instead, they’re expressed through avoiding lawyer communication, punishing their spouse, and pushing forward with legal retaliation against other parties.
Some clients can be so overwhelmed by divorce proceedings that they refuse to meet with their spouse and family lawyer or might be in denial about the proceedings altogether. When you know the feelings these actions stem from, you can often be in a better position to navigate them.
It rarely hurts to inform your clients that experiencing intense emotions in divorce is normal. If your clients are forewarned about expected emotions before they begin, they might be in a better position to acknowledge those feelings before they make decisions based on them.
Handling Addiction And Mental Health Issues
While substance use and mental illness are commonly reported among divorced people, these two factors can also lead to divorce. They might also be further exacerbated when one party files for divorce. Handling the legal proceedings of a divorcing couple with substance abuse and mental illness to the forefront can be challenging. However, you might be able to lay the foundation for success by maintaining firm boundaries from the beginning.
Outline your legal relationship with your client in writing and include consequences for any deviation from this relationship. For example, if a client’s addiction starts to interfere with the legal process, you might recommend that they seek professional help before you continue with divorce proceedings.
Incorporating The Needs Of Children
Your client might be a divorcing adult, but the needs of children should also be considered when you’re navigating a child custody dispute. Children can respond to divorce in many ways, with younger children prone to bedwetting and night terrors, while older children can refuse to talk about their feelings. Family lawyers aren’t therapists, but they can point parents in the direction of support resources while also considering the child’s routine and best interests when drafting child custody agreements.
Once you’ve brought your case to a successful conclusion, don’t be afraid to follow up with your client a few months after. You might make a phone call or send a note, but any contact can be meaningful when you help your client through one of the most traumatic experiences of their life.
You’re a lawyer first and foremost, but it never hurts to understand the human psyche when trying to conclude cases. The more you understand human emotions, the more compassion, patience, and empathy you might have for those you work with, and the easier you might find it to bring cases to a successful conclusion.