November 6, 2021
Emotions are subjective states of mind. By themselves they are neither good nor bad; they are simply reactions to events.
Negative emotions/reactions often occur when one is going through separation or divorce. Examples: “I want everything.” “I’ll never agree to a divorce.” “I want to get him/her.” “I will never agree to give custody to him/her.” “I will never agree to less/more than 50/50 sharing time with the children.” “If I don’t get “X” I’ll never agree.” The list goes on.
Controlling emotions can be very difficult. Some people go through life never controlling their emotions. We all are entitled to our feelings, in their place, but your divorce is not the forum to allow emotions to hijack a reasonable position.
New York’s divorce principle of equitable distribution creates a working assumption that your marital assets and liabilities will be divided fairly, often 50/50, but not always. You and your spouse can agree otherwise, but 50/50 is a starting place and, more often than not, an ending place. For you to bring emotion into the divorce process slows it down, and that costs you money.
To be clear, your emotions are legitimate and important. There are appropriate places for them to be expressed. A counselor or therapist is a better place to express them than in divorce negotiations.
In my experience, emotions can interfere with a person’s ability to gather and provide an attorney with data and documents that are necessary in the divorce process. Emotions can prevent an individual from working effectively with an attorney. The client can become immobilized, experience failure to concentrate and at worst be unable to recognize and accept a reasonable settlement proposal.
As a result, the attorney has to do work that the client could have done. If this happens, depositions may have to take place so the attorney can discover facts and documents that could have been provided by the client. The case can stall in the discovery process. This inflates legal fees, causes the case to take longer and increases the amount of stress and aggravation experienced by the client.
In divorce, it’s smart for the client to get his or her emotions under control as early as possible. Getting professional help to support you through the emotional patches is extremely important and certainly recommended.