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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Attorney and Client


Term Definition Attorney and Client - a privileged relationship.
Application in Divorce In most divorces, the husband and wife play one last part in each otherís lives -- one leaves and one is left. Very rarely do spouses reach the decision to divorce at the same time. Because of this, the "leaver" may be at a very different place emotionally than the person who is left when the couple sets to work on a settlement. This, and other factors, invite comparison between the loss of spouse through death and the loss of a spouse through divorce. On its face, that comparison may seem farfetched, but in both cases a ritual of grief normally happens.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, in her landmark On Death and Dying, observes that the terminally ill move through five fairly predictable stages as they move toward death. They are 1) denial and isolation, 2) anger, 3) bargaining, 4) depression and 5) acceptance. A divorcing couple moves through similar stages before the husband and wife finally reach a settlement and divorce, and they begin their lives anew as separate and single people.

In general, divorce lawyers see themselves as professional advocates -- craftsmen using the law to help expedite the most favorable result for their clients. Few welcome the role of psychologist, but a family law lawyer who can assess the state of mind and heart of a divorce client can save him or her money and thus leave the client with more for a fresh start.

A lawyer who understands the grieving process knows that settlement happens "when the denial is past, the anger is tempered by time and patience, and the guilt and frustration is assuaged."

In many if not most cases spouses moving through a divorce move through emotional stages not unlike death and dying. Understanding this, however difficult it may be to accept it, can make divorce, if not easier, then at least a little less frightening and a lot less expensive. Very often, much of the cost of a divorce goes to fighting battles that happen because one spouse or the other has not accepted the divorce.

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