May 2009

By Pamela Edwards-Swift, Esq.

It seems as if everywhere I go, the subject is the same, our dismal economy and how our lives are being changed because of it. People are discussing their personal situation in a very matter-of-fact manner. They are being laid off, or are having to lay people off. They have lost their job or their business. They are losing their home, or about to lose their home. The state government has raised their taxes. The federal government is on a spending spree under the guise of trying to save them. It is very gloomy, indeed.

What does this have to do with family law? Everything. All of this effects our family. The stress may be too much for some to bare. Quite often with the stress comes marital discord. Some couples will survive, but many will not. Either way, we will all be reminded that what is really important is our health and our family. It’s just that when a marriage breaks up “family” has a different meaning. Instead of being husband and wife under one roof, you become individuals under separate roofs. The children may call one place their home, or both places. But always, the relationship between a parent and child is a familial relationship.

Family is defined in many different ways. To our children, we are their family, no matter what the dynamics. Together or not, as parents, we are everything to our children. Our children deserve to be everything to us as well. Quite often in a divorce, a couple loses focus of that. It is very easy to fall into the selfish trap of what is in our own best interest, and somehow lose focus of what is truly important, the best interest of our children.

During a divorce, the children should be the primary focus. The job, the house, the car and the “principle” may seem like they are important, but they aren’t, not really. The children should be the focus during a divorce, because they will always be a part of our family. If we can manage to keep our children at the forefront of our mind, focusing on their best interest, and conducting ourselves in a manner to best achieve that best interest, it will all fall into place.