About five years ago a friend informed me that her son was getting married in two months and invited me to the wedding. I told her congratulations and that I would be happy to attend. Knowing her son was in his second year in law school and that his fiancé was not currently enrolled in school I told her, almost instinctively, “do you think that is wise? You know should there be a divorce his wife can make an argument that she helped him earned his degree and ask for some of its value if she can prove that the degree increased his earnings capability. Maybe he can delay the wedding for a year after he graduates” She looked at me and said “Are you serious? Angela, practicing divorce law has really made you less romantic than most folks.” The wedding went on, I attended, and I crossed my fingers that the issues of equitable division of his law license will never be a subject of contention in the event of a divorce. Thankfully, since the wedding, New York has revised its law on enhanced earnings of professional degrees and licenses. So his law license may be safe from an enhanced earnings claim after all.
She had a point. Matrimonial lawyers do not approach marriage and divorce in the same manner as laymen. This is why many of us do not represent family and close friends in divorce actions. For us, marriage is a contractual event with rights and responsibilities. We view divorce, not necessarily as a bad thing, but rather as a remaking of the family unit and our goal is to represent our clients in a manner that gives them a fair share of the assets that, hopefully, were created as a result of the marital enterprise. We also try to secure the best parenting time and custodial arrangement that allows each parent to be fully involved in his/her children’s life. Finally, we try our best to get spousal support and child support awards that will allow our clients and their children to continue to live as long as possible in the same manner they lived during the marriage.
The moral of the story is that sometimes we have to balance romance with the legal consequences of our actions and this time romance won. I’m truly happy for the young couple.