Attorney Randall Kessler was interviewed by WSB-TV news about how lottery winnings can affect divorce procedures.
He touches on a different situations that can arise when a couple wins the lottery, including what happens when one spouse hides their winnings from the other.
To see the video, click here.
Originally Published at Huffington Post
Married divorce lawyers have an interesting perspective on relationships. Sure, they’ve seen things get ugly for their clients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re pessimists who’ve lost all faith in love.
In fact, their careers have arguably made them better partners. They know what unhealthy relationship habits look like, and they can try to avoid them in their own lives. Below, four married divorce attorneys explain how their work has informed their romantic relationships.
1. They don’t rush into marriage.
“My wife and I dated for nearly 20 years off and on before we married. It is the first and only marriage for either of us. Sometimes I am convinced that being a divorce lawyer made it take a bit longer for both of us to commit. Even though we lived together before marriage and knew each other’s families well, it took a while to finally tie the knot. At a time when many of my peers have divorced and remarried, having realized that they rushed into their first marriage perhaps too hastily, I know that I certainly did not really rush into mine.” ― Randy Kessler, attorney, married 12 years
Read the full article here.
Now that same sex marriage is allowed everywhere in the U.S., many are lining up, or did line up, to jump right in to the sea of people legally wedded. While many certainly have wanted to do this for a long time and have thought it through, sometimes over and over, are there some who may do it, just because they can? Certainly in every segment of society there are those motivated by the prohibition against doing something. Many young folks drink well before they are legally allowed to, and the appeal for many is precisely that, they are not allowed to do it. I am by no means suggesting that the vast majority of same sex couples who wed as soon as they were legally able to do so, did not think it through. In fact, as a divorce lawyer, I see many heterosexual couples who jumped into marriages without “thinking it through”. There are all sorts of clichés for these types of marriages: Rebound marriages, revenge marriages and “I can’t stand to be alone” marriages. But the bottom line is that for many who were told that they could not marry the one they loved, the mere fact that they now can may not be the only issue they should consider. Or maybe they should marry, but with a bit of caution, perhaps with a prenuptial agreement?
There is no doubt that along with same sex marriage will come same sex divorce. It is already happening. But the reasons for divorce will likely be no different than the reasons opposite sex couples divorce. Unhappiness with their chosen spouse, cheating, addiction and physical violence. But the question may well be, did a couple marry quickly because they could, without thinking about, whether they should. Human nature is human nature and people, couples, human beings are impulsive. Yes many couples think very seriously about whether they should marry, but suddenly having the ability to do something that for years was prohibited, surely makes it a bit more enticing, no? In the next few years, as we analyze divorce rates, I imagine we will see similar numbers of divorces for same sex couples as for opposite sex couples. Many couples no doubt will live “happily ever after” and I wish them the very best. But in the short run and the long run, will there be those who are just as thankful for same sex divorce, as they were for same sex marriage? I think so. And perhaps that, the right to use the same rules to un-marry as everyone else, may bring even more equality.
(Reposted from my LinkedIn Blog): Certainly “divorce law” is not the most comfortable dinner conversation topic when out with friends. Often when the discussion turns to “How’s work?” or “Tell us about what you do”, there’s an uncomfortable pause when I explain that I am a family lawyer. I often get looks wondering if that means I handle divorces, or simply all sorts of law for families (like wills, etc.). I then explain that yes I am a divorce lawyer, but I prefer to call myself a “Freedom Lawyer”.
It breaks the ice and is certainly truthful, at least in the minds of many who have been divorced. But what happens next is almost always one of two things. Either the conversation moves right along to another topic, perhaps because people do not know what to say (which is fine with me, I do not want them to be uncomfortable), or more often someone starts to tell a story about their own, or a friend’s divorce. It still amazes me how many people are touched by the process. And it seems to always be a cathartic discussion.
People who could never discuss their own situation when it was happening, have now moved on and can have some perspective. They see the process in the broader sense and actually seem to enjoy discussing how it works, and how people each seem to handle divorce differently. And I realize that these discussions are much more pleasant than the ones we often have with people in the midst of a divorce. These dinner discussions seem to become a commentary on human nature, on how different people handle the same process differently. How some people put their head in the sand while others want to fight for “principle”.
And these discussions, this hindsight and retrospective, helps me improve as a lawyer. Because when I am in the middle of a divorce case, I must always think about how can I help them get to a place where they can reflect and be glad that moment is behind them, but also know that I helped them through it. No lawyer is perfect and certainly we get blamed for a lot, but we too must evolve and learn and grow and try not to just look at the moment, but to think ahead to that dinner discussion, and how we want our clients to look back at the process we helped them through. And hopefully, if we do our job well, the discussion will be a positive one and one that makes us proud of our profession and the difficult work we do.
I just read an article about China now having 10,000 divorces per day (click for the article). That number astounds me. I know China has a lot of people, but gosh, the number of divorces here in the states is high and we wrestle with the insufficient resources we have to handle American divorces (not enough money to now support two homes, therapeutic involvement for the family, financial support for children, legal assistance to the parties, etc.). We have been grappling with how to improve our family court system, whether it’s by having courts dedicated to handling family law matters, or guidelines for child support and alimony, it seems we are always playing catch up. And some may say we should make it harder to divorce. I do not think that will solve things. Rather, people may be forced to remain in bad marriages, and they will spend even more money and energy trying to get out of them, money and energy that should instead be used for their families. Of course, if people decide to stay married, that may help, but like many other social trends, divorce may be something that is best addressed by social awareness. Raising consciousness about how hard divorce can be on children may help. But truly each case is unique and perhaps the explosion in the amount of divorces in China is not due to the laws making it easier to divorce (which of course play a role), but perhaps the explosion is due to the quantity of people that have been waiting to divorce, have been legally unable to divorce, and that see the new laws in China as a way to fulfill their hopes of a new and better life? I am not saying they are right, but don’t all human beings have a right to choose their own fate? We can promote laws that inhibit divorce, but we should be very careful when we pass laws that may confine others to situations that we would not want to be forced to endure, to force people to remain legally connected, if truly they think they and their children would be better of “uncoupling” as the recent flurry of articles surrounding Gwyneth Paltrow’s divorce discuss. Uncoupling a bad relationship to allow people to move on, may be a good or bad thing, but shouldn’t it be there, not our choice?
We take this opportunity to wish all of our clients, fellow attorneys, friends and colleagues a happy New Year. As family law attorneys, every year has its trials, tribulations and triumphs. But most importantly, in the long run, we hope we are able to help ease the burdens of our clients and smooth their transition into their post-divorce life so it will be more bearable and hopefully much better, once the issues that brought them to us are resolved. That is our goal. We particularly want to wish a happy and healthy New Year to those in the midst of family law litigation. May 2014 bring peace and comfort.
We also want to look back and reflect on the growth of our firm in 2013 with the addition of attorney Karine Burney and law clerks Taylor Statfeld and Jamie Beton. They helped make 2013 a better year for us. We look forward to 2014 and the new additions of attorney Michael Deeb and paralegal Karla Ingold. We also look forward to our expansion to the 34th floor of our building in our downtown office as we will now be occupying parts of both the 34th and 35th floors. We hope our growth and our investment in space and personnel helps us do an even better job for those who put their trust in us by having more resources on hand.
Family law is a difficult but often rewarding field. There are disappointments, delays and frustrations, daily. But in the long run, we hope the difficulties our clients experience will pass and that their burdens will be lessened. We truly wish them the best. And we wish them and all of our friends, colleagues and families a very good new year. May 2014 bring you and them joy happiness, and most importantly, good health.
Why would I be going to New Orleans for the Super Bowl? Well, even though there are certainly many business related benefits such as seeing clients, their agents and advisors, and while this is also the “place to be” this weekend, the honest reason is that it is home. And New Orleans, where I grew up, is always having a party. I have been asked why not go home when it’s quiet? Well, New Orleans is never quiet. And I do go at other times. And there are business reasons to go, and introductions and connections to make, too. But there’s something about not being in New Orleans when something big is happening there.
Will it be good for business? I imagine so. I will meet many people and make more connections and if and when a family lawyer is needed, maybe our firm will be called upon to help. But more importantly, it is home. I will stay with my family, go to a parade or two, eat crawfish and King Cake and listen to great music. And by the way, I may just happen to see a great game. But no matter the outcome, a trip to New Orleans, is always fun, and this one should be as well.
Bar Mitzvah year, 2013
2013, a future has arrived. Just the name of the year, 2013, still sounds to me like a science fiction title. While the number 13 has to many been a symbol of bad luck, it seems that 2013 is starting off right. 2012 (not 2013) was, per the Mayans, to be the end of the world and the fiscal cliff dilemma seems to have subsided. But whatever your superstitions or concerns may be, it really is a time and chance to move forward. 13 is a magical number. It is the year a Jewish child becomes an adult through a Bar Mitzvah. It is the first “teen” year. And it is a brand new year for all of us.
Despite the instability in the Middle East and many other troubles worldwide, we have still avoided a world war, even though after the first one, barely twenty years elapsed before a second one arose. We have found ways to work together, despite so many differences. And in my profession, that is the key, both for lawyers and litigants. People who sue each other obviously have differences. But even in litigation, we are all human and owe each other the basic respect and civility which makes us human beings. There will always be those who battle for every last inch. And when pushed, even the mildest mannered lawyer can return the favor. But as lawyers, as counselors, we must stay on task. Seek our clients goals, while advising them competently during the process. Help them decide which goals are unattainable, or will only come at too high a price. We must give them good, reliable advice that will help guide them to make good, informed decisions. Variables include not just the financial cost of litigation, but the cost in terms of lost time, damage to relationships with children and actual damage to children which expands the longer litigation lasts. Yes this is our duty and if done well, can help families and society.
I remain proud to be in a profession which has the ability to help in so many ways. If practiced well, the profession of law can and should benefit us all. Without laws, without civilization, we lose our unique characteristics that make us human. Might becomes right, and we become like any other creature on earth. Laws are valuable, perhaps invaluable, but the manner in which they are enforced, argued and used, is up to us. And it is this duty, (the duty to act civilly and ethically) which can make the law work for all of us.
Again I wrote for LinkedIn and want to share it here as well:
Parents, even parents not going through a divorce, often ignore what is in their children’s best interests. I do not mean forgetting meals or not educating them, I mean basic, common sense things. I read a recent Huffington Post piece that made that clear and that I want to share. Click on the link in the next sentence to read the brief piece:
If Your Kids Could Make The Rules of Divorce http://huff.to/uY9K7g,
But generally, the piece is what parents are taught in most court-ordered parenting classes. Things such as “Don’t make children be the messenger”, or “Don’t tell them you hope they don’t grow up to be like, or marry someone like, their father/mother”. Even though this advice makes perfect sense, in the heat of the moment it is easy to turn to a child to complain about your partner; don’t do it! As divorce lawyers, our role is to be a lawyer, but ideas like these are part of why we are also referred to as counselors at law. Let’s take that role seriously and help remind people of the obvious: kids are innocent and their needs and desires, including their needs and desires to love both parents, should be respected at all costs. It is the least we can do for the ones we have brought into this world.
I wrote the following for LinkedIn as an “Influencer”:
I was asked to comment on HLN last week on the story about the young actress (14 years old) from the TV show Modern Family who wants to be out from under her mother’s care. Apparently her mom doesn’t like catching her in bed with boys and is very protective. Well that may be the best evidence of good parenting I have seen in quite a while. But young stars, like most young people, want to spread their wings. But they have more ability, more resources, more money, more friends (her older sister, in this case, took temporary guardianship of her) and more “supporters” making them feel powerful. But they are kids and need guidance. Soon enough they will have the freedom to make many of their own mistakes, but even though some parents are not great at parenting, the natural parent seems to be the one most likely to want what is best for the child. Sure there are some parents who abuse this situation, but unless it is clear that such is the case, why shouldn’t they be given every chance to guide their child that they brought into this world as they deem best?