I'm Married To A Divorce Attorney. This Is What Our Marriage Is Like

Divorce attorneys are experts on marriage. After all, every day in their offices, they see the petty squabbles and simmering issues that can easily bring down a long-term relationship.

What have they learned from their day jobs? We recently asked family law attorneys from across the country to share how their own marriages have been affected by their jobs and clients. To get a balanced account, we asked their spouses to weigh in, too! See what they had to say below:

Karen Covy, a divorce attorney and coach in Chicago, Illinois:

“I’ve been with my husband for 10 years and married for eight. I don’t take anything for granted. I’ve seen a lot of relationships that went south just because someone stopped paying attention to them. I see a lot of small mistakes that build into big problems. I’ve learned from the pain I witness every day. I consciously work on avoiding those mistakes myself. I try not to let my professional stress bleed into my personal life and I try not to cross-examine my husband. But I’m human!” 

Her spouse, Vit Homolka:

“It really doesn’t make much difference what profession my wife is in. She’s a strong woman and I like that. It’s true that sometimes when we’re talking, she hits me with her ‘lawyer’s logic.’ Our discussions get broken down into points and sub-points with supporting evidence. When she flips into lawyer-mode, it can feel like you’re in a court room. But, I know who she is inside. Her profession is not the primary thing in our marriage.” 

Margaret Klaw, a divorce attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

“I’ve been married for 34 years and for 30 of them, I’ve been a divorce lawyer. You might think I’d be deeply cynical about the institution of marriage. But you would be totally wrong. I, along with many of my colleagues in the family law bar, are deep appreciators of marriage. I think that is because we, more than most people, truly understand the value of family. We know it’s what gives meaning to people’s lives because we experience firsthand the depth of the pain when it doesn’t work out. And I know that has made me a better spouse and parent. I’m tolerant of small problems and differences because I am so acutely aware of the big picture, of how unimportant those differences may be when compared to the potential cataclysm of divorce. I have to admit, though, that I’ve heard this from my husband more than once during an argument: ‘Stop cross examining me!’ But really, if that’s all he has to complain about, he has no idea how good he has it.”

Her spouse, Alan Metcalfe:

“I may have just a few more complaints but I share my attorney wife’s perspective on marriage. I also love hearing about how badly couples behave (no names, of course!) in court, marvel at how generous her clients can occasionally be with their estranged spouses in the name of their children, and often think how lucky I am to be in a solid marriage. I also know that I would be screwed if I tried to divorce her because she is the only person I would want to represent me in court.” 

Alison Patton, a divorce attorney and mediator in La Jolla, California:

“You would think that with all I’ve seen and learned through the years, I’d be great at marriage and not make the same mistakes divorcing clients have made. Not always the case. For years, John’s common line to me when we were having a marital spat was, ‘Can’t you just use your mediator skills for a goddamned minute and try to understand my perspective?!? And stop interrupting me!’ What I’ve learned from being in this profession is we all make the same mistakes in marriage. Some of us are just lucky enough to have the marriage survive until we figure it out. I think we made it through the rocky stretches because John is as strong a person as I am. He’s an attorney too and he held his ground. Even when we were furious with one another, we never lost mutual respect. I’d be lost without him.”

Her spouse, John Thickstun:

“I’d been divorced for about a year when Alison and I met and started dating. I proposed a few months later. My friends asked me, why are you getting married again? And to a family law attorney!? So I explained, ‘This will guarantee that it will last. It has to!’ All kidding aside, divorce attorneys are participants in the end of a chapter -– the death of a relationship. But if they’re like Alison, they are also witness to the beginning of a new chapter -– a rebirth of sorts. Guiding people through the divorce process creates wisdom if you’re open and paying attention. Alison pays attention. She brings the wisdom she’s learned to our relationship. I love her more today than the day we were married over 18 years ago.” 

Christian Denmon, a divorce attorney in Tampa, Florida:

“Our situation is a little different: I’m a full-time divorce attorney. My wife does divorce work, but it is a minority of her practice. We apply what we learn from our practices to our relationship and it helps steer us on the right track. And I think, as we transition from what divorce lawyers call a short-term marriage to a medium-length marriage (we have been married seven years), we are still on strong footing. Much of it is thanks to her!” 

His spouse, Nicole Denmon:

“My husband listens more to other women’s problems than mine. The emergency phone calls at night and on the weekends used to bother me. I used to ask lots of questions as to why a female client needed to talk to him so badly at 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday night. But then I listened to his conversations. Some were true emergencies and others were him just be an attentive lawyer who knew when that his client needed to talk and needed advice right then. Although it did not constitute an emergency to him or me, the person on the other line truly believed that it was. I have come to learn that a good divorce attorney must be attentive and on call if a client needs to speak with them. I know that my husband does not always want to return a phone call, but he puts himself in the position of his client that is experiencing one of the most traumatic experiences one can go through: divorce.”

Nancy R. Van Tine, a divorce attorney in Boston, Massachusetts:

“Stu talked me into going to law school while he was studying for the bar exam. Four years later we started our own firm. I didn’t choose family law. I backed into it. I was the only female lawyer in my location when we hung out our shingle, and the divorce clients came as a result. And they kept coming, and I loved doing it. Stu and I worked as a team. He did a lot of my legal research and all my appellate writing in the early years. We’d discuss strategy, law and the clients all the time. I think we were more careful of each other in our marriage as a result. Marriage and divorce law have been a fun partnership.”

Her spouse, Stuart Van Tine:

“Yep, I’ve been married to a divorce lawyer for 52 years. She wasn’t a lawyer for the first 14. I’d been an attorney for five years when she was sworn in and we opened our own shop. We later joined a larger firm together; I retired, she’s still there. For us, practicing law together was fun. My end was stodgy bank and real estate work. Her practice seemed to bring new and amazing bits of insanity every day. What I remember most is her ability to keep her composure where very few people could, like laughing along with our staff at the death threat left on our answering machine or the court battle over custody of a stuffed parrot. Those were happy days.”

Katherine Eisold Miller, a divorce attorney in New Rochelle, New York: 

“Divorce lawyers hear some pretty crazy stories and we know what destroys relationships. Knowing what destroys them gives us a window into how to nurture and preserve our partnerships. On the other hand, we also know how to protect ourselves and our assets and that could be pretty scary if things weren’t going so well.”

Her spouse, Richard Heller:

“I’ve been married to a divorce attorney for 18 years. From the beginning I needed clear boundaries between work and relationship ― and no prenup. Prenups look to me like a self-fulfilling prophecy, like you’re planning the way out when you have not even begun while to my attorney bride, it just made sense to get clear on financial boundaries. Keeping communications from becoming ‘litigious’ is an ongoing practice for both of us. I often joke that ‘I’m married to a divorce lawyer, I don’t mess with her,’ but I actually find my spouse appreciates what an amazing marriage we have because she has seen so many marriages that were less than that. She works long hours and I miss her terribly, but our time together is always sweet.”

Daniel E. Clement, a divorce attorney in New York City:

“As a divorce attorney, my problem is not making my clients’ issues mine. While I am sympathetic, I have to remain detached to keep my objectivity and maintain my sanity. I certainly don’t want to bring their problems home with me. That said, I can use my client’s issues as life lessons. I can identify the mistakes they made in their relationships, in raising their children, in their decision making, and consciously modify my behavior so as not to follow them. I do not want to be someone’s divorce client.” 

His spouse, Michelle Schwartz Clement:

“Most of the time, Dan seems immune to the stresses of the day. Yes, there are days he brings it home, but what successful professional doesn’t do so?”

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Source: HuffPost Black Voices

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