What are some unique considerations when working with a Christian divorce case?
Initially, helping the client determine whether divorce is the only option. Thereafter, providing the Christian guidance to give them hope that they will not only get through this very dark time but that there is forgiveness, renewal and a fresh beginning waiting for them. Working with Christians going through this difficult time is a pleasure for many reasons but one of them is they truly try not to use the children as “pawns”, but even the strongest in the faith have difficulty when emotions run high; being able to guide them back to the right path in the process is rewarding.
How can Christians who are going through a divorce find support instead of judgment? A support system is critical, the right support system is a blessing. If they find they are being judged in their support system then it is time to find a new system. This doesn’t mean ending relationships – just finding new support systems. Many churches now offer “Divorce Care” groups, if this is not an option then finding a Biblical Counselor (National Christian Counselors Association NCAA has a directory of qualified individuals) is key. Most Christians who are counseled on biblical foundations can be relieved of the guilt and shame that comes along with a Christian divorce. Pray for those who are judging and be a beacon to others going through the same.
What are some ways that Christians can navigate an experience like infidelity? This too requires biblical counseling. We tend to blame ourselves when our spouse has been unfaithful. Getting help to avoid this pitfall and to walk through the difficult process of forgiveness is key. Most spouses who are the victims of infidelity are extremely hurt, angry and emotional. Making legal decisions when experiencing these emotions often leads to poor judgment/decisions. As an attorney, recognizing when the client is not emotionally ready to make these decisions can save the family a tremendous amount of unnecessary heartache.
How do you handle domestic abuse cases as a Christian? It is amazing how many abused Christians have waited decades to leave the abusive marriage in fear of disappointing our Lord by divorcing. Even once in my office they are questioning whether they will be forgiven. In such cases, protecting the client and the children are a priority. Every state has some form of restraining order or order of protection as well as domestic violence shelters and resources if needed. Safety first, then the next priority is a strong support system/counseling. Once the situation is stable we can address the remaining legal issues.
What are some tips you can share to strengthen the marriage relationship so it doesn't dissolve into infidelity, abuse, or divorce?
Placing God at the center of your marriage is key. Forgiveness is key (both seeking and giving). Most men in my office seeking divorce cite “grew apart” as the issue but after further inquiry it most often comes down to them not feeling like they are a priority. Make your marriage a priority and make sure the kids know it. Most women cite “disrespect or isolation” as the cause of the breakdown of the marriage but after further inquiring it most often comes down to failure to communicate. There is a disagreement when is not dealt with resulting in passive aggressive behaviors towards each other causing further resentment. This continues for years until there is ongoing disrespect and two lives going in different directions. Communicate with your spouse in a way they will understand. Don’t let unresolved issues fester.