In a movie that I adore and one that should be required viewing for anyone contemplating marriage, Dean reluctantly says to Cindy, “You said for better or for worse. You said that. You said it. It was a promise. Now, this is my worst, okay? This is my worst. But I’m gonna get better.” Blue Valentine concludes with the heightened events that normally precede a client contacting a family law attorney for the first time. This climactic scene also represents the unspoken backstory that normally informs the still amorphous shape of the forthcoming storm known as a divorce proceeding.
Fittingly enough, one of the most scrutinized steps in the divorce process is its origin: the form and fashion of the service of the complaint. I have always been confounded by the level of anxiety associated with this step, as I imagine that anyone despondent enough to file for divorce must have previously manifested such animosity in some other form to their spouse. However, I have learned that many defendants are often too narcissistic, heedless or detached to believe that their spouse possesses the fortitude to follow through with what they previously dismissed as mere idle threats. As a result, receipt of the complaint can illicit reactions that run the gamut from incomprehension to indignation. This spectrum is akin to the bewilderment and disconnect you experience upon seeing your souvenir photo taken midflight during a rollercoaster ride, such that we each deal with stress in unique and unforeseen ways.