In 2013 the Tampa Bay Times wrote about Terry Power whose divorce took five years and more than $400,000 to resolve. When the case was finally over, Power had declared bankruptcy and his kids had been put through an ordeal.
Recently, the newspaper gave an update of his situation. Power is running for political office, the Florida House of Representatives. He says he made the decision after spending years trying to change family law in Florida.1
Although Power has rebuilt his business, his children are still scarred from the divorce. His 19 year old son – who was 10 when the divorce was filed – has struggled. Power said that his son moved out about a year ago, and he hasn’t spoken with him in eight or nine months.
In the updated article, Power acknowledged that the divorce brought out the worst in him. Having practiced family law in Clearwater, Florida, for over thirty years, I see how negative and destructive the process can be. Lawyers talk about the difference between representing clients in criminal matters and representing clients in family law matters. In criminal defense, you see bad people on their best behavior. In family law, you see good people on their worst behavior.
Terry Power went through a bad experience. Power acknowledges that he was not acting on his best behavior.
Those of us in the legal profession might rightfully ask: how do we prevent having such a disastrous experience for our clients? How do we do a thoroughly professional job and avoid having a dissatisfied client?
For starters, it is appropriate to treat all persons related to the case with dignity. In the past, Power admits to calling his wife “psycho” or a “greedy bi—”. In so doing, he only made it more difficult on himself.
The parties who actually want to avoid Power’s experience might wish to consider a collaborative divorce. This type of divorce is designed to give the parties the highest quality of representation, while keeping the process confidential, and out of court. It is designed to bring out the highest qualities of the parties with dignity and transparency.
Collaborative divorce was not as well known when Power went through his divorce. If he had chosen Collaborative divorce, his experience would not have been the same. In choosing this path however, he would have been required to accept the principle of full cooperation with regard to financial matters.
The tragedy of the Power family is a lesson for those who wish to avoid the destructive effects of divorce, upon themselves and upon their children.