I can usually tell quickly whether a new client might benefit from seeing a mental health counselor and how that could help him or her get through divorce proceedings.
One clue is when the client is fixated on something that doesn’t really matter under Florida divorce law, such as that their soon-to-be ex-spouse was unfaithful.
I know that adultery matters emotionally and I can sympathize with how much such a betrayal might hurt. Legally, however, it won’t make a difference, plain and simple. An exception is when fairly large sums of marital assets were spent on the affair, but even here, the money is what matters, not the betrayed spouse’s hurt feelings.
This is because Florida is a no-fault divorce state. A straying spouse won’t be “punished” by getting less in division of property or shared child custody, even if their behavior contributed heavily to breaking up the marriage.
As an attorney, my goal is for my clients to be in a place where they can start new lives after divorce and look forward. I want them to be healthy and whole or on the way to being healthy and whole. I want my clients to be part of win-win solutions, where marital property is fairly divided and plans are in place for the best welfare of the children.
I do this by looking out for them legally. The issues that I can’t resolve are the emotional issues that can entangle people.
This is when a good counselor comes in and why talking to a counselor during the divorce process can be a wise decision.
Divorcing spouses are likely going through one of the toughest emotional times of their lives. It’s normal to feel on edge, but at the same time, rational thinking will be sorely needed. Big decisions are going to be made about things like division of property and how to raise the children as divorced parents.
A counselor can help sort through painful issues. And having someone to talk to about negative emotions that can arise during a divorce is a good way to maintain sanity. A counselor also can help in role-playing to rehearse for something that the client may feel especially nervous about, like testifying at a deposition.
It also can help tamp down the drama that sometimes may erupt in court when emotions are about to boil over because of something that was said. To do my best job, I need to be able to hear what is happening at all times in court – what the judge is saying, what the opposing attorney is saying, what the opposing spouse is saying. That can be harder to do when a client is incensed about the testimony of a spouse and wants to tell me about it right then and there, no matter what else is going on.
Believe it or not, people do feel better once they have gone through the worst stages of divorce and are beginning to heal. I want all my clients to get to that place. And some clients who are mired in emotional issues can get through the divorce process more easily if they see a counselor.
At the Jeanne Coleman law office, we’ve been helping our clients in divorce cases for more than 20 years. If you have questions, we offer a free 20-minute consultation. Please, contact our office at 813-253-2820.