Being a divorce lawyer is a relatively recession proof occupation.  Unfortunately, the volume of Mississippi family law conflict is endless.  People are going to have relationship problems and they are going to need legal counsel, regardless of their ability to pay for the services.  That is just the way it is.  For many people that may be reading this, their occupation is not “recession proof.”  Maybe you have suffered a job loss or a failed business or you are the spouse of someone who has.  Many people I know and represent, mostly victims of circumstance, have suffered repossessions, foreclosures, bankruptcy or other negative financial consequences.

It has been a tough several years for a lot of good people.

The good news is that it seems things may be turning around and we are in the early springtime of new economic momentum.  It may not change where you are money-wise because of the financial winter that we all just went through, but I am hopeful that in 2011 people get back to work and regain confidence in our American economy.

In marriage, together we ride our personal economic roller coasters.  Sometimes we are slowly rising and sometimes we are sharply falling.  There are flat spots and twisty spots and every now and then we go totally upside down.  When you and your spouse are a team and buckled in tightly to the cart, it can be an exhilarating ride.  You throw your arms in the air, wave ‘em like you just don’t care, and laugh and cry and hold on tight.  But when people are not acting like partners in marriage, a bumpy ride can get dangerous.  One spouse may be about to go over the top of an incline, ready to start an economic fall, but because they are not in a partnership marriage, their spouse does not want to ride any more.  They are psychologically in the historic incline or flat spot although their reality is very different.

I represent a number of entrepreneurs- people that are willing to take big risks in hopes for a big reward.  These are my favorite types of clients, especially those that are self-made.  I consider myself to be somewhat of an innovator and “lion chaser” and I get pumped by people that will take a calculated gamble to achieve success.  If you know many entrepreneurs, you know they can at times be just as likely to go bust as they are to ride the rocket ship of success.

I saw this guy the other day that was an innovative business man.  He has enjoyed great success over the last decade and his lifestyle reflects it.  To his dismay, a few years ago he gambled on an investment at the wrong time and it sucked away his capital and a great deal of his energy.  After bailing water for several years, his economic boat has taken in too much water and it is going down.  If he and his wife were in God’s intended partnership, they would be bailing water together as fast and furiously as their arms would go.  Unfortunately for this guy, he is the only one with a bucket.  Don’t get me wrong- he is no angel.  He has his own set of issues.  Notwithstanding the economic Titanic, his wife is psychologically still sunning on the deck of the boat or on the slow incline of the roller coaster of life.  In truth and reality, she should be buckled in tight with her husband getting ready for the sharp drop, but visions of beach vacations, private schools, foreign cars, expensive gifts and a lifestyle that the rewards of entrepreneurial success can bring are still dancing in her head like sugar plums at Christmastime for excited children.  When the non-money spouse is also the “innocent spouse” as divorce grounds go, you get a double whammy of entitlement mentality when sometimes there just isn’t anything there from a fiscal standpoint.  This is a recipe for disaster.

So smart lawyer, what do you do?  This is the toughest type of case.  If you represent the person with the money, you must have third party data to show the economic reality, no matter how harsh.  If you do not represent “the money”, you must build a case based upon lifestyle and potential and attempt to factor in reviews in the future with regard to hopefully changing economic situations.  Regardless of whose side you are on, if you do not give advice that factors in non-recoverable legal costs, you are selling your client short.

There is never a good time to get a divorce, but when your family is suffering hard economic times, it is the absolute worst- regardless of whether you are the husband or the wife, the income earner or the homemaker.  I would encourage anyone suffering through hard times in their marriage and/or hard economic times to get into counseling, work as a team, bail water together and buckle into the roller coaster tightly, hang on to each other and learn how to enjoy the ride.  If your marriage is not recoverable, there may be hope, but it is okay to stop and ask for directions by getting legal advice from a professional that can help.

Craig Robertson is a family law attorney practicing throughout Mississippi.  

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