Is the Legal Profession Hurting Marriages? A Lawyer's Perspective
- Thursday, August 20, 2009
I feel like divorce is being sold as a product. We are forgetting first the damage to the couple, which is huge, long lasting, and everyone is kind of aware of that. There is also damage to the children. I personally grew up in a family where my parents got divorced when I was in elementary school. I experienced some of that pain myself, my brother and I did. We still experience it to this day, the fact that our parents are not together, and there are so many awkward occasions. Everything is complicated because of that divorce, more difficult.
Even more so, [divorce] affects the church family. I have actually seen where one divorce in a church will start almost a chain reaction of other couples. Their marriages crumble. I don't know why it is, but it's the sense of "nothing is permanent." All these marriage relationships [feel] temporary, and there is just a sense of a snowball rolling down a hill effect. The more divorces there are, it seems to promulgate more divorces around that couple.
So, I see the pain being not just in that relationship, but also much, much farther beyond that. It hurts God too because, again, it's a holy covenant that has just been trampled on.
CW: Do you think our laws make it too easy to get married or divorced?
SB: You know, Sarah, I am not really a big proponent of changing the laws. I think the laws are what they are in most cases. They have their flaws and their difficulties. It may be "too easy" to get divorced, but I don't think that is where the problem is. I think the problem is people's adoption of the worldly mindset that says marriage is just a contract. [That] it's just a transaction between two people, and it doesn't really matter. I think it's a spiritual problem, not a legal problem. It's the condition of our hearts that is the problem.
I think the legal profession contributes to the problem. When they… get a call from one spouse saying, "I might need some legal help. My marriage is suffering," too many attorneys are throwing gasoline on that fire instead of trying to help get that couple into solid Christian counseling. The first thing they do is hire a private investigator to find out what other dirt they can dig up and make the situation worse and start a psychological process of getting the couple into an adversarial position with each other.
The bottom line for a lot of attorneys is that they make their living from divorce. So … the simple economic reality is going to be that the more divorces, the better. The uglier and nastier those divorces, the better, because that means more billable hours, more difficulties, more hearings, more appeals, more controversy. They may or may not admit that they want to see marriages being destroyed … but the reality is they are making their living from that.
CW: During his lifetime, Pope John Paul II asked Christian lawyers to turn away the majority of their divorce cases, saying lawyers were contributing to the breakdown of the family. What are your thoughts on that - should lawyers start turning down cases?
SB: Amen! I personally do not do divorce work. I never did, even before I became a believer. I just had an aversion to it… perhaps just because my parents have been divorced when I was a kid. So, I have never had to turn away divorce work; however, I do get phone calls from clients who don't know what type of work I do. They call me up and say, "Steve, can you help me with this divorce."
When I get those situations, my first question is always "Have you been to counseling yet? Have you gotten with a good solid Christian counselor, whether it's through your church or whether it's an independent Christian counseling agency?" So, I am able to [avoid] making the situation worse through whatever my reaction is to that. I have tried to be a peacemaker.
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