Sensitivity In The Divorce Process
F. Vuotto, Jr., Esq.
New Jersey divorce lawyer
Carly DeCotiis, MA, NCC, LPC, ACS, CCS
We all know that divorce is a very stressful occurrence in anyone’s life. It is stressful not only for the parties and their children, but also for the lawyers and even the judges involved. However, the authors posit that there are some things that lawyers can do to help their clients that do not technically fall into the category of the law. Generally, family law attorneys may be more effective when working with divorcing couples if they focus on empathy and sensitivity to the emotional issues experienced by couples. This is a skill set that most mental health experts possess and practice on a daily basis. This column seeks to offer lawyers a brief overview of some of the tools they can employ to help their clients deescalate the situation, rather than escalate it (within ethical guidelines, of course). First, lawyers may wish to try to approach "divorce" as more of an uncoupling and be more sensitive to everyone's feelings. In most cases, such an approach will facilitate the process by causing the parties to be less emotionally distressed (most importantly for the children). Lawyers are taught to be advocates. That's who they are. That's not wrong in most kinds of legal work, but in divorce, lawyers are faced with many scenarios where advocacy takes a back seat to preservation of the family and the children. Lawyers are not typically trained in psychology, which would help them be more aware and sensitive to their client’s emotional needs. There are exceptions, in terms of those trained in mediation and Collaborative Law. Unfortunately that is a small part of most lawyers’ educational process yet lawyers are forced to navigate the emotional impact of divorce without that training.
The following are some of the tools that family lawyers can utilize to achieve the aforementioned goals for their clients. Many lawyers may instinctually use some or a combination of these techniques in their daily practice, however if lawyers consciously engage in these techniques they can assist their clients more effectively.
Some mental health experts may have the view of lawyers that they are too aggressive, divisive and only concerned with money. Conversely, some counselors may not fully understand the divorce process and the legal issues involved. Concepts clash at times. Both sides, in our humble opinion, could benefit from education about the other for the betterment of divorcing (uncoupling) parties and most importantly, the children, who often are the ones most impacted by the process. If lawyers employ the above techniques, it may help them to possess a skill set that can be used to enable them to be more emotionally sensitive ultimately for the betterment of the divorcing couples and their children.
Charles F. Vuotto, Jr., Esq. is the Managing Partner of Tonneman, Vuotto, Enis & White, LLC with offices in Cedar Knolls and Matawan, New Jersey. He is certified by the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney and is a past Chair of the Family Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”). Mr. Vuotto is the Editor-in-Chief of the Family Law Section’s New Jersey Family Lawyer. Mr. Vuotto is qualified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey to mediate family law matters and has been trained as a family law arbitrator by the AAML. In April of 2016, Mr. Vuotto received the Saul Tischler Award from the Family Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, which is a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to family law in the state.
Carly DeCotiis, MA, NCC, LPC, ACS, CCS is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Private Practice with offices located in Summit and Raritan New Jersey. Mrs. DeCotiis provides individual, family and couples counseling to children 10 years and above, adolescents and adults.
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