Times have changed.
According to a report, more millennials (people reaching young adulthood around the year 2000) in the United States are now getting their parents to handle their divorces.
How do parents help?
Collection of evidence
One such example is Lisa (not her real name), 42. Her husband was going to prostitutes. Her parents loaned her about USD175,000 for her legal fees and other expenses, helped her in case-building. For instance, her father photocopied the ads for 30 different prostitutes who saw her husband. Lisa also emailed evidence to her mother for safekeeping.
Liaising with divorce lawyers
Parents are also helping their children to meet and speak with their lawyers.
Some parents have a financial stake while others are there to provide support and guidance.
A US lawyer interviewed said that parents would never be seen with a client in the past. Parents start appearing at law firms in the last 10 years.
Why are parents and family members getting involved?
One possible reason may be due to technology as it is now easier for family members and other members of the divorce support group to keep in touch with the divorce lawyer.
Carol Sigelman, a developmental psychologist, observes that younger adults now take longer to be fully independent (for instance, they stay in schools longer) and their parents are staying healthier and more active.
Experts said that failure of marriage is a real crisis and a close relationship with a parent is important to help the married person gets through the ordeal. Jeannine Ellis, 36, went through her second divorce in 2015. She is thankful that her parents were there to help her and that they were “willing to bend their idea of what’s right to make sure [she’s] happy.”
Problems with getting parents, family members and others from the divorce support group involved
However, experts warned that parental support can transform into parental control.
A lawyer interviewed shared the story of a client whose husband offered a lot of money to her because he felt back about the divorce. Her client could have walked away happy but her parents insisted that she asked for more. The lawyer predicted that her client may eventually suffer emotionally and financially.
See: Marisa M. Kashino, “Millenials Are Now Getting Their Parents to Handle Their Divorces”, Washingtonian, 13 December 2016
It is always good to have more support during difficult times, like divorce. Over the years, I have had clients who brought along their family members (parents, siblings, uncles, aunties, nephews, grandparents, cousins, children and even distant relatives), friends, classmates, colleagues to my office. I even had a client who brought her secondary school teacher along!
As a matter of practice, I never turned down their requests to have their divorce support group involved. After all, it is their divorce and they have the right to choose the people who are involved- so long as they are comfortable. In fact, many of my clients even created a WhatsApp group with me and their divorce support group!
While it is good to have support during this difficult process, I always make it a point that the final decision should lie with the client himself/ herself. Everyone is entitled to his/ her opinion but there can only be one decision. The divorce support group can offer their view on the matter and I can render professional legal advice. However, the client should be the only one making the decision. It is his/ her life and the final decision should like with him/ her.
Times have changed and I continue to learn to work with different groups of stakeholders every day in my journey to help my clients. My clients’ interests matter the most to me.
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