Quality Divorce and Family Law Legal Advice and Second Opinions
and Some Philosophical Spice!
Because this Blog has brought me into contact with so many wonderful people,
a segment of whom are facing daunting struggles in their personal lives
who would otherwise never wish to share the company of attorneys (not
because family law attorneys are necessarily bad companions, but because
divorce lawyers like myself are rarely called in except when situations
reach critical mass), I hope to share from time to time about issues that
extend beyond my role as a family law specialist and speak to the dangers
that flow from the disintegration of our core identity and value systems
- the family unit.
Whether mine is an exercise in self-aggrandisement or a cutting edge dialogue
about the elephants in the rooms we all inhabit remains to be seen. However,
as a person on the front lines where people battle against one another
about basic concerns over economic and emotional security, I worry that
the collapse of the most basic unit of human interaction - families in
whatever configuration - potentially guarantees the collapse of the social
structures upon which we all depend. We may deny that Americans are vulnerable
to the same erosions that beset Pakistan, Syria, Africa and so many parts
of the world. But once traditional expectations for the quality and entitlements
of peoples' everyday lives seemingly becomes impossible to fulfill
(for instance because fundamental needs for food, shelter, or intimacy
cannot be met) a radicalization will occur that devalues and undermines
all social glue in a self-perpetuating cycle of violence.
If at the end of relationship, as I observe not infrequently, people seek
out lawyers to act as destroyers and imagine courtrooms as the place to
accomplish revenge, they are already living within a self-imposed world
of divorce jihad. Indeed, I have written much about how "people blow
themselves up in divorce all the time." Considered from that perspective,
the self-centeredness that devalues the lives of others and goes to war
with each and every other person's right to seek happiness becomes
the soil in which we figuratively begin to plant roadside bombs within
our own communities.
The good news for those who find such thoughts depressing is that with
a click of the finger you can vote to relocate your attention elsewhere
in an instant! : ) For those for whom the tone of this website resonates,
I'd like to deepen our relationship.
* * *
I remember with great fondness and gratitude many of the lessons of Richard
"Dick" Flacks, a sociology professor at the University of California
at Santa Barbara (now retired), who made his mark on me back in the 1970's
when we lived in a seemingly kinder and gentler world that was nonetheless
beset by challenging and scary transitions.
Everything that we worried about and foresaw at that relatively innocent
time of our cultural and even global development has unfolded in ways
consistent with our darkest fears. And yet, the seeds of all of the glimmerings
of hope and social responsibility remain with us and have sprouted in
equal measure. This tension between polar extremes seems to be the battle
that we are waging today, whether as individuals and nuclear and non-nuclear
family units or 'tribes' of people. These are difficult and frightening
times. People at the end of relationship and families in transition are
the microcosm that collectively mirrors our experience as individuals
in a larger way. Society's successes and failures tend to match our
individual interpersonal successes and failures - and this interdependency
ought be noticed, honored, and managed carefully - for the future of us
all. If we cannot regulate our choices and behaviors in positive ways
when we come together in twos and threes why should we expect different
results en masse?
One of the most enduring principles that Richard Flacks taught was the
idea of "making personal history", a concept that was not based
upon a vision of egoistical success of becoming an 'historical figure'
as the words seem to suggest, but which referred instead to the idea that
each one of us can make our own small contribution to improving the circumstances
of others (and therefore ourselves), one person at a time, by incorporating
morality and ethics into the decisions and choices our daily lives. The
fact that Dick was one of the founding members of the 1960's movement
known as the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) made him something
of a radical, authoritative, and inspiring figure (I remember meeting
with him once after class about a paper I was writing, and having him
point to an indentation in his skull received by a gun butt when the FBI
raided the SDS offices - or at least, that is my memory of what I was told).
Relationship transitions and the struggles of families managed by adult
human beings struggling with conditioned minds that easily slip into trance
(fear, resentment, the imperative to control) is where the rubber hits
the road in terms of our impacts upon others and our own happiness. And
in terms of charting our way through the trainwreck of our times. How
we manage divorce and family law trauma can enslave or redeem us.
My desire is for all of us to speak the truths more often than not. For
those people in the midst of a divorce or custody crisis, and for purposes
of this Blog article, who have found themselves questioning the legal
advice and performance of the family law or civil attorneys upon whom
they are forced by circumstance to rely upon, or for those others who
cannot afford counsel and just don't know what to do, my wish is that
something in these pages gives you some insight or inspiration to do things
better than might otherwise be the case.
But my greatest desire is that the lessons of Richard Flacks live on through
your decisions and choices - for you and your family, that you decide
to make "personal history" in ways distinct and more evolved
than what you did before, or what your parents did. Divorce trance is
generational: It passes from parent to child until someone questions and
betrays the cycle of unthinking insanity. True, you must not sacrifice
your safety. But safety is not always that image that our fears first
cause our minds to define.
* * *
One of the aspects of the practice that I greatly enjoy is weighing in
on how you might better navigate whatever path lies before you and helping
to evaluate the professionals that you must employ. I do it for a fee,
but if I hit the lottery I promise to devote myself to public service
(sound familiar? I've never won more than $2!). In the meantime I
am available for Skype and phone and office consults for those who otherwise
don't wish to or cannot retain my services directly.
I do my best to answer emails for those simply seeking free advice, but
please don't be offended if I do not respond to you directly. Hopefully
the articles and blogs contained herein serve you and make some small
Thurman Arnold, C.F.L.S.