Better Angels of Our Nature: Lincoln and Divorce

by | May 20, 2013 | Collaborative Law, Family Law, Mental Health, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Abraham Lincoln, one of my heroes, spoke to a divided nation in 1861 and expressed a hope that everyone, north and south,  would be touched by “the better angels of our nature”.     file3921269374368 These poetic words are often ringing in my ears when I sit with a divorcing couple hoping that they might be able to summon their best selves during difficult times. Divorce can be so emotionally challenging that it is easy to excuse people who cannot bring their better angels to the process.  It would be wrong to judge anyone who, when facing divorce, becomes so blinded by fear or anger that they seem unable to summon their better natures. Yet, as a divorce attorney, someone who has a responsibility to help clients achieve better results, I cannot escape the fact that my job requires me to help them, (and if possible their spouse) find their better selves.  I do know from nearly three decades of experience that they will make better decisions and get better outcomes, particularly for their children, if they can find their “better angels”. Until ten years ago, I did not think it was even possible to help clients find their better selves. Hardened by 20 years of practicing divorce law, I had come to believe that I had to, for the most part, accept irrational and self destructive behavior from my clients.   However, during the past ten years, through the Collaborative Process, I have found that there are ways to help people find their better selves and, therefore, achieve better outcomes. This has been partly due to the training that I have received from my Collaborative Colleagues to help clients in new ways.  It is strengthened by the fact that the other attorney will work with my client’s spouse in the same manner; and by the fact that the clients can get the support of a child specialist, financial neutral and coach who will help them both bring their best selves to the table.

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