As each year comes to an end, we tend to spend more time with family and friends. It is often amusing to hear the same old stories, jokes, memories, and even arguments at the dinner table every year when the family gets together. You look around the table at your parents, brothers, sisters, children, in-laws, cousins, friends, etc., as many thoughts ﬂood your head. You also may wistfully remember a lost loved one absent from the holiday dinner table for the first time. You remember the good, the bad, the frustrating moments, the happy times, the sad times, and everything in between. But you always come to the same conclusion: this is my family, and these are my friends, for better or worse.
As a matrimonial attorney, I am all too familiar with the rifts that frequently grow between family and friends. It's been said many times, but it is an inescapable truth that love and hate are emotions separated by an unimaginably fine line. There are few professionals more familiar with this concept than family law attorneys. The animosity and hatred that matrimonial attorneys often witness between litigating parties can be very disheartening, and cause damage to your faith in the family unit. Sadly, it is often the children who are the victims of cross-fire in a matrimonial or family dispute.
While it may seem contrary to my line of work, I strive to remember that my clients are members of their own families. They also have parents, brothers, sisters, children, in-laws, friends, etc. While their dispute may be with one particular member of this family circle, there is no reason the dispute needs to spread like a cancer through the entire circle. I encourage my clients to try and resolve their differences quickly and amicably, causing as little collateral damage to their family as possible. A divorce, for example, signals the end of a marriage, not the end of a family. Divorcing parents need not try to turn their children against the other parent. Children can continue to have two parents, two sets of grandparents, and two extended families even after their parents have separated.
If you find yourself considering making a change to your family circle in the coming year, keep in mind that one year from now, you will be sitting at a holiday dinner table. Think about who will be sitting there with you, what stories you will be sharing, and what memories you want to have of the just-ending year. An experienced matrimonial attorney should be interested in not only guiding you through your legal issues, but also in helping you preserve as much of your family as possible so you can join your family at the holiday table and reminisce about the happy times.