Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Recipe for Happiness?

My premise is that, for many legitimate reasons, people going through divorces or dealing with other family law issues frequently are unhappy, stressed out and isolated. (How's that for a break through?) "Normal" may not be the technically correct term, but based on my experience in the field, I would say that it is normal for a litigant to be unhappy during a divorce or family law situation. That is true, from what I have seen, even in a Collaborative case, although usually to a much lesser degree. I feel sure that readers who have not been participants in a family law legal dispute have known or seen friends or family members going through the process and have observed the same unhappy state.

The traditional suggestions that lawyers make are either to "tough it out" or to get counseling. Some people refuse to get counseling because they don't want it on their medical records and don't want to be stigmatized as being crazy. That's somewhat understandable, but I have seen many cases where everyone (the judge, both attorneys, the other party and the kids, if there are any) would have been better off if one or both parties had gotten professional help. But, we generally can't force someone to get help. For the people who choose to get counseling, it can be a god send. But, it can be expensive and time consuming. There are lots of reasons/excuses for not following through with counseling.

So here's a thought coming out of left field. Try becoming active in the social media. There's no guarantee that this will work, but I read an interesting article by Warren Sukemek about happiness and social media and I think it's worth a try. He didn't write about it in the context of litigation, but this seems logical to me. Set up pages with Facebook and Twitter (or other social media sites) if you haven't already. It's very easy to sign up with both. Become a "friend" with an ever-widening circle and "follow" a large group of interesting people. The connections or re-connections you make may help you feel happier. If you're not sure what Facebook and Twitter are, do a Google search on the terms and read up. Then join. I am not a techie and I found it very easy. You can, too.

A word of caution: Think before you write. Your spouse/other litigant and his/her attorney may be able to see your comments. If you join and participate in social networks, what you write and what pictures you post will be in public view. Be careful that you don't say or do something you might regret later, even if you enjoyed saying or doing it at the time. I have posted on the topic before. You should assume that anything you write or show on the web will be shown in court to a judge or jury. Will it look good for you or hurt you? Think before you act.

Facebook and Twitter are only two of many different on line communities you can join and enjoy. Look around and start to make some friends and connections. Besides emotional support, you may get help with a new career or training or products you need. If nothing else, the social media can be entertaining. Enjoy it, but use discretion!

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