I watched The Lion King with my 5-year old grandson recently. I know for some parents if they hear Hakuna Matata one more time, there will be another snatch of hair in the hand! But hey, that’s what grandparents are for! In one scene, after King Mufasa falls to his death off a cliff, (aided by his brother Scar), a disconsolate young Simba curls up against his father’s dead body, believing he has caused his father’s death. (If you aren’t one of those parents pulling their hair out at the thought of it, you can view the clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPvS4GjKMdY). Scar approaches his distraught nephew, wraps a paw around Simba, pulls him close, and tells him it would probably be a good idea if Simba left. It would be best. For the good of the pride. It is important to be careful about to whom you look for advice. Scar didn’t want the best for Simba. It looked like he did. It sounded like he did. And his advice even made some sense. But Scar was looking out for Scar who would rule the pride in Simba’s absence. He just couldn’t wait to be king.
My advice to first look at all the options available and avoid assuming that an adversarial process is the only option, should be viewed through the listener’s own internal compass just like any other advice. But I wonder about the advice I know people get elsewhere, sometimes from other lawyers. Advice that plays to one’s worst fears and sets the lawyer up as the great rescuer. Please understand. This is not always the case. And I do believe that sometimes lawyers who only offer court or lawyer-negotiated settlements as options are often well-intentioned. But ask yourself, despite the hurt and anger you might be feeling in this early stage, how important is it to you and your children that the two of you can peaceably attend your children’s weddings some day and what path has the best potential to allow that to happen. In other words listen to your own heart and mind.
Lawyers aren’t the only advise dispensers. There are dozens of experts that emerge from the woodwork when you face a divorce. or other major life transition. Friends who went through their own divorce. Family members who are outraged at the behavior of the soon-to-be-outlaw. Most of the time, unlike what Scar felt for Simba, those people are well intentioned and care about you. But they may also want to be your seen as the King of Support, your very best ally and cheerleader and therefore urge you to “get all you can” or tell you that “you deserve more than that.” It can feel good to be that supported. Listen but also seek the counsel of a more objective adviser who isn’t motivated to be seen as your best friend and supporter. Think about your ultimate goal and if you have kids, remember you have a lifetime to continue to be in relationship with your children’s other parent. Perhaps that’s a goal worth making king.
Wishing you wisdom,