According to the letter of the law, marriage and divorce are much the same: it all boils down to a legal document.
That being said, let’s imagine what life would be like if we treated the marriage process the same way we do the divorce process…
“Hi, I’m Max Attorney,” the man introduced himself.
Annabelle reached out and shook his hand. ”Nice to meet you. I’m Annabelle Engaged.” She followed Max into a spacious office and took a seat in front of his mahogany desk.
“Now,” Max began. ”What brings you here today?”
Annabelle cleared her throat and straightened her shoulders before speaking. ”Well, um, my cousin recommended you after my boyfriend proposed last month.”
“That’s fantastic!” Max exclaimed. ”Congratulations! When’s the Big Day?”
“I was hoping for a fall wedding,” she told him. ”I’ve been to several lately and I thought they were beautiful. But… my fiance’s mother would rather we hold the ceremony in the Spring.”
“I see,” said Max, jotting notes on his legal pad. ”Tell me more.”
“She thinks Spring is better because it’s symbolic of new beginnings. And she doesn’t want us to honeymoon in the Caribbean during Hurricane Season. I love her and everything, but this is my wedding. I think she should respect our wishes and let us make our own plans.”
“Is that the only issue at this time?”
Annabelle sighed. ”No. Chris and I started to talk about where to hold the ceremony and he thinks it should be inside the church, but I’d rather have it outside. He agreed to my colors, but he wants too many groomsmen. And he thinks we should spend our honeymoon at a golf resort. I hate golf!”
Max asked more questions and took more notes.
“Has Chris retained representation?” He wanted to know.
Annabelle provided the information for her fiancé’s lawyer.
“I’ll draw up a pretty simple proposal for now,” he told her. ”Then we’ll wait and see what opposing counsel comes back with. I think we should be able to get this wrapped up for the two of you within a few months, and then you’ll be on your way to the altar.”
Annabelle stood up feeling relieved and empowered. It felt good to have a seasoned professional on her side. ”Thank you so much,” she told Max. ”I look forward to hearing from you.”
As the months passed, she heard from Max often. He promptly sent her copies of correspondence from Chris’s lawyer and was always available to talk about their ever-evolving strategy to assure Annabelle her Dream Wedding.
Through their attorneys, the bride-and-groom-to-be negotiated flower arrangements, seating charts, dates and locations. After the venues had been booked, they turned their attention to matters pertaining to marital and, if necessary, post-marital finances.
“I’m willing to stay home while the kids are young,” Annabelle told Max. ”But I don’t want to give up my career forever. Can we ask that he pay for me to take classes during those years?”
“Are you insane?” Chris grumbled to Annabelle after he received her most recent request. ”You want me to work to support you and the kids, save for them to go to college and pay for you to go to school too? Do I look like I’m made of money?”
“Tell it to my lawyer,” she instructed him.
“I can’t afford to do that either!” Chris exclaimed. ”And why should I have to? Our marriage and family isn’t about them. It’s about us! You and me and our kids and our money and our decisions. Our lawyers don’t even know us. Why are we paying them to tell us how to divide our paychecks and raise our children?”
I have to agree with Fictitious Chris. The process of creating a marriage involves an abundance of personal discussion and decisions that will affect the Rest Of Their Lives. Yet, people do it all the time without retaining counsel to speak for them. Why can’t divorce be the same way?
(Shhh. Don’t answer. Just think about it.)