Around the water cooler at the office, we legal minds have been remarking about the billboard in Chicago that happily is coming down.
I do not like it, and not simply because it serves to feed the image of the slimy "divorce lawyer," versus what I consider myself to be, which is a family law attorney. I do not like it because it fosters the image of divorce as a magic bullet.
Too often - and especially in these times of subprime lenders going under - I have clients who arrive at a divorce with the mistaken belief that it will be the cure for all that ails them. Too much credit card debt? Get a divorce. House in foreclosure? Get a divorce. Stuck in a go-nowhere job? Get a divorce? Spouse has put on a few too many pounds? Get a divorce. You've put on too many pounds? Get a divorce . . .
These same people become dismayed when I have to explain to them that a divorce will not undo the consequences of choices they have made - be they medical, financial, educational, etc. - many of which are unrelated to the marriage. As one of my colleagues commented, quite often with regard to their material situation, they are going from bad to worst. There are legitimate reasons for divorcing, but it should be a measure of last resort.
And now comes this ad, that places divorce at the same level as some miracle "fat-burning" pill! "Better abs in 90 days with Dissomaster!" "This month in Cosmo - Dump the Ex for Better Sex!" "I Lost My Wife But Gained a Six-Pack!" "Both My Breasts and I Got a Lift - From a Divorce!"
Jimbob at Shaking Off Sleep has a good idea, having a billboard that shows the "realer" side of divorce for many people in a middle-class situation. I recall statistics that state a person can expect a 30% decrease in their quality of life post-divorce. I also recall Fr. Raymond O'Brien, a professor of law at Catholic University who was a visiting instructor at my law school, Loyola Law School, bitterly relating to the class how he, as a child of divorce, remembers the hangars cutting into his fingers as he carried his "week's clothes" back and forth between his mother's home and his father's home, as he alternated his visitations with his parents - still some rancor some 50 years after the fact.
Divorce is a serious option and cannot be treated so lightly. I would hope this ad came to the attention of Illinois' state bar's ethics committee.