When I tell people what I do and the market in which I work, the results are predictable. I get the inevitable comments about the huge divorce rate and how easy that it must be to make a living in such a lucrative field. Sometimes, however, I get an alarmingly visceral negative response. I have been called a vulture, an undertaker, the Grim Reaper, you name it. The latter labeling does sting sometimes, especially when compared to the many people who I and other divorce professionals have helped. So, it got me thinking about the question whether the pro in divorce professional makes the person pro divorce.
Misconceptions of a Divorce Professional
When viewed externally, I could see informal support for this view. Even the people that you help sometimes find it hard to separate the source of one’s income from one’s intention. Common divorce portrayals do not necessarily help. The divorce stories told from the divorce professional’s viewpoint is rare to non-existent. Additionally, if we, the divorce professionals, do our job exceptionally well and in the service of the client, then the story lacks the drama necessary to attract watchers. Think about it, even a reality show chronicling the daily life of a divorce professional is probably less compelling. The general public usually sees shows like Marriage Rescue, where a guy, who saves drinking establishments, applies this technique to saving marriages in a crazy sideshow setting. This creates an inaccurate perception of what real life is for helping couples go through divorce.
Why Did I Become a Divorce Professional?
I came to the divorce industry by way of the lending industry. Many times in a divorce, there is at least one home. Believe it or not, the transaction created from every broken marriage did not attract me, but that there were people who needed help. Those people whose lives had been turned upside down, who were looking for stability, a new start and a roof over their family’s heads, needed help. I saw that my effort on these, often very difficult deals, could set a family up for a better life for years to come. It could, for example, allow children to stay in a desired school system or in a neighborhood with their friends.
The Divorce Process is Not a Payout
As I write this, I think about the number of situations where I gave the advice that was good for the client but bad for my W-2. Instances that I spent significant time on, but I would never see a payout by helping a couple figure their best divorce housing plan. Recalling one time when I had a sizable loan that was ready to go, the client asked me about the impact of acquiring an additional property and if it would fit well with their planned post-divorce lifestyle. I spent an afternoon educating her on nesting, which in this case would end up with no loan or payout for me but ended up being the best option for their family. I could have proceeded on the original planned trajectory and had a great month, but I did not and I have zero regrets.
Divorce Experts are Pro-Family
As I have spent more and more time in the divorce industry, I have forged amazing relationships with attorneys, mediators, collaborative specialists, therapists, divorce coaches, financial advisors and accountants who also specialize in divorce. While I have come across a few bad apples, most of the individuals that I have met are amazing and dedicated people who are working to truly help people through the divorce process. These professionals spend their time and money on training on topics like alternative dispute resolution, collaboration and discernment counseling. I regularly collaborate with other divorce professionals who work with couples to save their marriage whenever possible, but who also ensure that if a split is the best option, couples are fully prepared for that decision. In my perspective, divorce experts are pro-family, not pro-divorce.
My experiences have led to the conclusion that we need to look at the professionals who provide divorce services the same way that we look at physicians. I have never heard it even whispered that oncologists are pro cancer or that an orthopedic surgeon would be rooting for a knee crushing injury for someone. In fact, if you were to ask most oncologists if they would be happily unemployed with no more cancer, you would hear a resounding yes.
We need to recognize that a failing marriage and divorce are sicknesses of a relationship. There have been broken relationships as long has there have been relationships. Until we can create a cure for the very human things that can change the nature of these relationships to such an extent that they fail, we will continue to have divorce. In the same way that we value other professionals that help people in need of help, we should all recognize and appreciate that there are dedicated, skilled and supportive divorce professionals that provide necessary services and education.