Divorce Lawyers Should Not Assist Clients With Mental Health Issues Says NYC Attorney
A well respected New York City divorce lawyer by the name of Val Kleyman recently sent out a newswire to divorce lawyers warning them “to be careful not to cross over into the role of personal therapist for clients. This is a common problem that does not get enough attention” Attorney Kleyman said. He added, “helping someone deal with their emotions, feelings and mental health is a very serious undertaking and must only be done by professionals who are trained and experienced doing this.”
While I agree with most of that, here is the point he made that hit me hard. “Divorce lawyers are the love undertakers. Unlike marriage counselors and therapists whose job it is to save relationships and help people heal, our job is to bury dead marriages quickly and efficiently before their toxicity spreads any further,” says Kleyman.
WOW, I have to disagree with Attorney Kleyman a bit on this one. This seems far too limited of a view of our role as a divorce lawyer in my opinion. I have been practicing family law and divorce work in Dayton, Ohio for 40 years. All the work divorce lawyers do is serious no doubt, not just the therapy and counseling aspect provided by psychologists and other experts in that field.
The Important Role Psychologist And Counselorsp Play In A Divorce
Each client has different needs since obtaining a divorce is often so emotionally charged. I sit down with each new client and listen. And then listen some more to try to assess their legal and emotional needs and how I can best help them. Of course, I view my role as being a legal advisor, but in addition I believe it is also to help provide some direction and encouragement to obtain assistance from psychologists, therapists, financial planners, appraisers, CPA’s or whatever “expert” can help clarify issues and assist the client to move forward in their life.
Counselors and psychologists can play a huge role in divorce case depending on the facts and the emotional health of the client. The primary role of a divorce lawyer is to work out a fair “disentanglement” of the parties and to help effectuate the termination the marriage usually as quickly as possible. But I always inquire at the outset if the parties have considered or participated in marriage counseling.
I try to gauge if the party is making what appears to be a rash decision. What I want to do is try to put in motion a healthy plan so the client is not paralyzed by the divorce action and can better move forward afterwards with their life. I have found that psychologists and therapists are best suited to deal with these emotional issues. (Attorney Kleyman and I agree on that point as well.)
Divorce Lawyers Not Love Undertakers
According to Kleyman, “divorce law is highly intertwined with psychology. As divorce attorneys, we must listen carefully, recognize potential issues and help clients by crafting legal strategy that is cognizant of their emotional well-being during and after divorce. It is a fine and difficult line to walk”. He hit the nail on the head in her conclusion! Perhaps, upon reflection, we are both saying similar things. Maybe I just don’t want to think of myself as a “Love Undertaker.”
Read More About Divorce Lawyers Role
To read more about the important role psychologist and counselors can play in a divorce, read these past articles from the Ohio Family Law Blog.
Click here to read, “Should I Hire a Psychologist During a Divorce”
Click here to read, “Divorce: Should You Seek Help from a Therapist During a Divorce?”
Or, click here to read, “Divorce Cases Can Cause Emotional Explosions”
I thank Attorney Kleyman for his newswire and encouraging attorneys to remember bring counselors, psychologists, and therapists into the mix in these emotional divorce cases!
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog. Mr. Mues has also been a dog owner for 55+ years, and just recently, he and his wife are the owners of "Ralph", a rescued mixed Wire Hair and Jack Russell Terrier.