A few weeks ago, Lauren Beaver authored a post on this blog entitled “What Every Divorced Parent Should Be Thankful For This (and Every) Thanksgiving – Each Other.”   While the sentiment was spot on and aspirational (if not inspirational), the truth is that for many divorcing and divorced parents, the experience is more like what was described in Robert Epstein’s post from the same day entitled “Thanksgivukkah And Other Holiday Parenting Time Nightmares.”

That got me thinking about the topic generally.  While sometimes we get effusive praise, as I got last week from a client who was really happy with our work, expertise, timeliness and just listening to his “B.S.” (his term), quite often, divorce litigants are so blinded with anger that they cannot be thankful for the things that they should be thankful for, much less, express thanks.  That is too bad because I am sure that these bleeds in to all aspects of their life.  Moreover, it clouds their judgment and their conduct.  Here are just some examples of what I mean:

  • My client got a temporary support award that was more than $80,000 per month and included a savings component (which is basically unheard of), but that client was more concerned about how the motion was argued then the insanely great result.
  • I recently met with a client who had been to mediation and had an agreement prepared.  When I read it, the deal deviated from what you would expect in her favor.  She was unhappy and wanted more.
  • Another client recently got everything she wanted at a motion othr then one issue, which she told me she didn’t care about before the motion was argued, because the issue was essentially moot.  That one minor loss, which really wasn’t a loss when you understood the judge’s rationale which really was meant to protect our client from continuing bad acts by the spouse, irritated our client to the extent that she was unable to see her near total victory.
  • Another client won every motion during the case and got a huge victory at trial – huge – couldn’t be better, but was apoplectic when the Appellate Division granted a stay, not on the merits, but because the spouse was made to post a substantial cash bond.
  • Custody evaluations come back and suggest that the client should be the parent of primary residence and confirm much of what she has said about her spouse, but the client cannot get passed a few of the negative statements made in the report about her.
  • Or how about getting screamed at by the client when the custody report that confirmed that the spouse had a substance issue but also, that my client had an anger issue.  Priceless when the client screamed at the top of her lungs, “I don’t have an anger issue.” The client missed the fact that she was going to be getting primary custody.
  • The desire to punish their spouse’s infidelity by not letting them see the kids, despite a close and involved relationship.

I can go on with numerous examples and I am sure that my colleagues could add more.  That said, at this time of year, even though things are hard and stressful and uncertain, and even though “he is buying gifts for that !*!?!”, or “she is interfering with my relationship with the kids” (kids you spent little time with before the divorce), people should step back and appreciate the good things in their life, how great their kids are, that they have supportive friends and family, that they have a good job, that their divorce has really been going well for them legally, or whatever other good things they have in their life.  And maybe, just maybe, appreciate the fact that your divorce attorney really does care, really is working hard for you, really is listening to you and is otherwise doing everything possible to get you through the process as best as possible.  And if you don’t want say thank you, at least pay pay for the services rendered in a timely fashion.  Though we don’t expect that thank yous (but appreciate them), we do expect to be compensated for our hard work.

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Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric is resident in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland and Morristown, New Jersey offices, though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

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