Family law, another term I prefer to “divorce,” constitutes 10 to 20 percent of my practice.


I’m not sure I could do it all day every day, like some of my colleagues. But I certainly have a great deal of professional respect for many of those who do.

I am not a “divorce lawyer,” but I am a lawyer who handles divorces.

Actually, I prefer “dissolution of marriage,” the terminology employed in Chapter 452, of the Revised Missouri Statutes of Missouri.

Family law, another term I prefer to “divorce,” constitutes 10 to 20 percent of my practice.

I’m not sure I could do it all day every day, like some of my colleagues. But I certainly have a great deal of professional respect for many of those who do.

Many of my colleagues won’t touch family law. Too icky. Too emotional. Too something.

“No way.  Divorces, yech.”

But I don’t mind. Many of my good clients, or their children, their employees, or their friends, require the professional services of a lawyer who practices family law. And when they call, I am happy to assist.

There are, I believe, many general misconceptions about family law, and the dissolution of marriage process.

One I hear from lawyers who refuse do it is that it’s awful, seedy, horrible, and ungratifying work for a lawyer.

While there may be an element of truth in some instances, I would dispute such a broad characterization most of the time.

Without question, going through a dissolution of marriage can often be one of the most difficult, gut-wrenching processes a human being can endure in their lifetime.

Thus, being able to and help someone get through it, and plan and establish their new direction in life financially, personally, and as a single parent can often be quite professionally gratifying. 
In fact, some of my most fulfilling tasks in the profession have been representing someone in their dissolution of marriage.

It truly is an opportunity to help someone at a time when they desperately need a counselor, an ally and an advocate. 

Another common misconception about the dissolution of marriage process is that it results in a determination of which party has been wronged, and who the winner will be.

Rarely can a winner and a loser be clearly identified.

In my honest assessment, getting caught up in who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s good and who’s bad, and who’s going to win and who’s going to lose is usually a prescription for expending a whole lot of money, experiencing a whole lot of anger, and losing a whole lot of sleep and peace of mind unnecessarily.

The process is designed to determine a fair and workable system for dividing the parties’ property and debt, and providing for the support and co-parenting of their children.   

Absent some egregious circumstance, who’s to blame for the breakup of the family usually has little to do with how those issues are resolved. 

So the sooner a party is able to focus on the important issues, and let go of their obsession with the largely unimportant issues, the better off they’ll be and the better the process will go for everyone, including themselves and their children.

Another basic truth: My experience is that, in most cases, for every criticism one party has of the other, the other party can match it, and rarely does anyone gain anything by reducing a dissolution of marriage case to a war over who can make the most complaints against the conduct or character of the other.

As I sometimes tell my clients, it’s not an athletic contest where at the end of the day one team is dancing in jubilation and the other is skulking off to the locker room with their heads hung low.
And, in my opinion, what a good lawyer should do at the outset of a dissolution of marriage case is counsel and educate their client as to what the truly important issues and goals in their case should really be, and how best to work on a fair and appropriate resolution of them so that they can get through the process and get on with their lives with the least amount of financial, personal, and emotional turmoil as possible.