Splitsville: Men Don’t Need Their Own Divorce Lawyers, Thank You Very Much

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divorced coupleWelcome to Splitsville. This weekly column will focus on parenting after a divorce, break-up or one-night stand that didn’t end like a Katherine Heigl movie.

When we talk about divorce, we almost always equate it to war. There’s the custody battle, the legal opponents and the collateral damage. (By the way, that damage is referring to your children’s well-being.) We talk about partners who once vowed to love each other forever plotting and scheming to gain the best leverage before filing the paperwork. We call Katie Holmes and her bombshell of a divorce announcement a savvy businesswoman. We look at divorce as a zero-sum game. Whatever one side wins, the other loses.

And I suppose that this is why lawyers feel like representing one gender or the other is a smart business move. The Wall Street Journal reports that some divorce attorneys are specializing in helping men in “the struggle to keep his kids, his house and his money.” Because apparently, he wasn’t sharing those things with his wife when they were married.

These manly new niche firms aren’t the first gender-specific divorce attorneys. ForbesWoman has an entire series of articles by a family attorney aimed at helping females through the divorce procedure. Jeff Landers gives financial advice to brides-to-be and talks about handling a woman’s retirement account during the divorce.

I have a radical new idea for both sides of the gendered-divorce spectrum. How about we stop looking at this like a boys vs. girls event? In fact, how about we stop looking at this like a war altogether.

Divorce is emotional. It’s not easy. But it should still be focused on doing what’s best for the families involved. It is possible to the needs of the children involved ahead of the needs of either individual parent. It is possible to be respectful of your ex, while still having a fair proceeding for both sides. I know because I’ve seen it happen before. Even with all the hurt feelings of a one-sided divorce (that included infidelity), I have seen two people rise above their differences to do what’s best for their children.

You can say that I’m being unrealistic, and I know that there are situations where working together just isn’t possible. Every divorce is personal and has its own unique circumstances. But I think the way we look at divorce could use a change. I think our viewpoint could be altered.

If we stop looking at mothers vs. fathers, husbands vs. wives, and start looking for ways to make everyone happy with the new arrangement, we’re going to have better outcomes for everyone. Children will be happier, because their parents will be fighting less. Couples will be less stressed, because they don’t have to worry about battling their former-spouse in a court room.

We don’t need lawyers for husbands and separate attorneys for wives. We need lawyers who are able to act in the whole family’s best interest. We need to approach divorce as a situation that works out for everyone, instead of taking things away from one and giving them to the other.

If, Heaven forbid, I should ever have to use the services of a divorce attorney, I don’t want one that’s focused on getting me as much as he can. I want a lawyer whose focused on doing what’s best for my entire family. Some may think it’s naive, but I think that preparing for battle just guarantees that you’ll get one.

(Photo: Beijersbergen/Shutterstock)