Using Your Divorce Lawyer as a Therapist
Key Points
  • A lawyer is not a therapist; do not treat him or her as one. Your personal problems are not necessarily relevant to the divorce and/or custody case. If you need to talk to someone, it is much less costly to call a therapist who is trained to deal with the non-legal aspects of the divorce (the emotional side).
  • Your lawyer’s job is to attempt to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement and help you with child custody or support issues. He or she is not trained to help with the emotional aspects that come along with the divorce experience.

Many times, you will be tempted to talk to your lawyer about your personal problems, particularly since he or she is right in the middle of the action. Resist the temptation. Your lawyer is not trained to help you with nonlegal issues. Although they can and should give you the legal perspective on your problems and help you understand what your rights are and what you risk by making certain choices in the litigation, lawyers cannot help you deal with feelings such as rage and depression. Talk to your lawyer about your feelings only to the extent that the lawyer encourages it, and only for purposes of establishing whether your fears are legitimate and what you can do about them legally.

Once your lawyer gives you the lay of the legal land, if you still cannot cope emotionally, find someone better equipped to help, such as a therapist, rabbi, minister, or priest. Let your lawyer know if you are contemplating counseling. He or she should find out whether what you say to a counselor will remain confidential and immune from being subpoenaed or whether your spouse could get hold of your records and use them against you in the litigation.

In any event, do not bore your lawyer with tirades against your spouse. First of all, you will be charged for the time and will have gotten absolutely nothing for your money. Second, subjecting your lawyer to your negative emotions could make him or her angry or annoyed at you or your spouse, thus making him or her less objective and therefore less effective.

Remember, your lawyer’s job, ultimately, is to get the judge to decide your way. If he or she can settle your case before the trial, so much the better. But to do this your lawyer needs to be able to view your case from the judge’s perspective-not just yours. Use your lawyer as a weapon in your struggle to win your divorce or custody case, but keep that struggle separate from your other struggle-to heal yourself emotionally.

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