From mid-November until January 1st each year, most people focus on the holidays– either embracing them completely while feeling like Chris Kringle or at the other extreme sympathizing tremendously with Ebenezer Scrooge or The Grinch prior to their last minute epiphanies. For those in troubled marriages, those five weeks at the end of the year can be quite torturous for a variety of reasons, including: (1) Have you ever tried to get someone a gift while they are on your shit list? Believe me, it is not easy. (2) Can you imagine what it is like trying to put on an act for others worthy of an Academy Award at the Oscars when you feel like you are dying inside? Few, if any, have ever actually managed to fool their friends and family when they are sharing meals and spending extended time together. (3) When everyone else around you is coming up with good-natured New Year’s Resolutions, like focusing on their health or work-life balance more, can you try to picture how you would feel when the best resolution you can come up with is simply trying to avoid having World War III erupt in your own house?
In the new year, as the disappointment from the holidays fails to fade away and you realize that “fake it ’til you make it” cannot be your marriage’s motto again this year, you gradually become aware that there is something inside you that is starting to grow– it is as if tiny seeds of resentment have now spouted and formed roots, while vines have sprouted and started to strangle your heart and take over your thoughts– taking them both to a deep, dark place where anger and hatred now reign, and what you feel towards your spouse is at best just apathy and at worst complete disgust. Once you know you cannot fulfill your vows to love, honor, and cherish your partner as originally promised, it doesn’t take a person very long to seek an exit strategy, especially with Valentine’s Day looming right around the corner and the undeniable realization that you have nothing left to celebrate on that day.
Hopefully this now helps you understand why January is known in my industry as “divorce month,” simply based on undeniable patterns and stories we have gathered over the last few decades, but thankfully we have worked hard over the last several years to make sure that the divorce process itself is a straight-forward as possible, with most standard forms available online and mediation offered by courts upfront, as soon as a case is filed. Experienced and compassionate family lawyers are well versed in alternate dispute resolution techniques, and together we work hard to address everyone’s issues fairly without the need for a trial.
They say in the medical field that there is a limit to how long someone can probably last dealing directly with trauma cases. So how is it that I have managed to go almost 20 years now doing what I do? Primarily I give credits to my clients, who inspire me every day by the courage and strength they show in making drastic changes to better their lives; and secondly I think the only reason I can continue to do the work I am so passionate about is because my colleagues and the judges I have become most acquainted with have consistently demonstrated their commitment to helping me find solutions to the unique problems that face each family I have encountered while preserving as much goodwill as possible. And I know it sounds crazy, but there usually is a fair amount of goodwill particularly when parents recognize that they need to let any past ill-will go for the sake of their kids.
I do see a very dark side of humanity at times, especially in January when emotions are quite raw, but I also see a lot of the beauty that makes life worth living. Most of my clients have families and friends that rally around them in their time of need, and within 2-3 years they do eventually rebuild a new life, one with more clarity about their own priorities and choices. With this greater awareness comes an improved understanding, which inevitably helps most of us in our journey to finding inner peace, although that too can take a while– but it all begins with that difficult first step that many will take each January, so it is critical that the right resources are identified early on in order to ensure a smooth trajectory for the many months of work that lie ahead.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.