Financial Crisis, Divorce, and Your Lawyer
September 7, 2009
First of all, my thanks to attorney Steven H Silton, whose article, Counseling Clients in Financial Distress, in the August 2009 issue of Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the inspiration for this blog. Bench & Bar of Minnesota is published by the Minnesota State Bar Association.
Here’s my personal reaction to what Mr. Silton says in his article.
The financial crisis, and your personal crisis, is really about what you can do.
The global financial crisis is real and can be a rude awakening to someone who does not pay attention to the economy, or who does and who has, until now, enjoyed prosperity. In fact, today’s circumstances can be particularly hard on you if you’re used to hard work, success, and success based upon your hard work. Sometimes it seems that what you’ve done has been for naught. But, understanding your limits, rethinking your life, and taking a holistic approach to life and work, can help — though nothing can guarantee that your investments, or your marriage, or your social position, or anything else for that matter, will keep on an upward curve. We are all subject to market forces, nature, and social forces beyond our control. We have to learn how to learn from failure; and we must learn how to best deal with the psychological and personal aspects of the situation we are in.
You need experts, carefully selected, to work your way through this.
You should work with professionals, experts, to deal with what you cannot handle on your own. There is no shame in this. This could involve an attorney, a financial advisor, a life coach, a realtor, or a therapist. You have to do your life work and engage others in this work as appropriate. Getting depressed can be part of this but we have to learn to work through all the aspects of our situation. To quote Mr. Silton, “Accepting responsibility is one thing, but there is no room for despair in a sinking ship…” We must focus on how to get through the present crisis and how to build a better future. Victories in these necessary struggles, instead of avoiding the struggle, are what build confidence and reduce anxiety.
Stress and strain require you to be careful, ethical, and honorable.
If you are stressed, if those with whom you deal are stressed, you and they are inevitably being pushed in the direction of making distressed, even desperate, decisions. Someone sinking into apparently hopeless debt and bankruptcy will not always make rational decisions about their finances or about anything else, for that matter. Many examples could be cited of a party in a divorce who spends what he does not have on his bar tab, his ‘toys,’ and in other ways to avoid thinking about and dealing with what is inevitable. Be careful in your dealings, guard yourself from those who are not and work at living your life as ethically and as honorably as you can.