As of 2017, the United States has at least one divorce every 13 seconds, placing our country sixth in the world for highest divorce rate. While Alabama’s numbers have been on the decline, marriages are constantly at risk of becoming another expensive statistic in the divorce rate. One of the prospective reasons for these outrageous numbers is that couples are not accurately assessing the state of their marriage and choose to end the marriage too early. One essential way to preventing this scenario is for the couple’s divorce attorney to commit to avoiding divorce at all cost, seeking a solution to the couple’s problem instead. It is absolutely the attorney’s duty to evaluate the situation and make every attempt to help the couple work the marriage out. Of course, it goes without saying that if the marriage has become abusive in any way, or if the couple has already been separated for some years, then a divorce is about the only option available. However, if the couple is simply just “drifting apart”, there may be room for reconciliation.
While divorce can be an extremely emotional time for both parties, it is the attorney’s job to be the “voice of reason” in the case. A good divorce attorney will consider components of the case such as any children involved, the reason for the divorce, the mental state of both parties, etc. before recommending the best approach to solving the problem at hand. It is important to remember that other steps - such as couple’s counseling - should be taken before completely “calling it quits” on a marriage. A good attorney will be able to determine the root of the problem and offer suggestions aside from divorce that the couple could consider. If the couple is struggling to stay connected emotionally and physically, there may be help found in a marriage counselor or a marital education program that would allow the couples to improve in areas such as marital functioning, couple problem solving, arguing strategies, learning forgiveness, and maintaining a “fun relationship” with each other. An attorney has a moral duty to suggest these alternative measures in order to ensure the couple is not making a mistake by hastily deciding to split up.
If divorce does become the best option for the couple, there are several variables that they should walk through with their attorney to make the divorce process run smoothly. The couple’s financial standing, the style of divorce they find best suited for them, and how the divorce will effect the additional family members are all extremely important considerations before signing any papers. Looking at these different categories will allow for the couple to get a better grip on what they are up against in the divorce and decide if alternative routes are possible. In the end, if divorce is the only option on the table, a divorce attorney should do everything in their power to allow for a prompt and cordial separation, all the while encouraging the most beneficial options for the family.
This article was written by Emily Atwell, a legal assistant and chief intern at the Reid Law Firm. She is an English major concentrating in linguistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who will be graduating this spring. Originally from Dothan, Alabama, Emily enjoys working with children with disabilities, spending time with her family, and exploring all the wonderful places Birmingham has to offer.