A very light news morning this morning was made more entertaining by a piece in The Independent about "America's divorce king" Gerald Nissenbaum, coinciding with the publication of his book, Divorce Confidential. Nissenbaum has been practising divorce in Boston for some 40 years and his client list is described as "almost exclusively rich beyond reason". That may be pretty much the opposite of the way I would describe my old client list (although many of them were still beyond reason), but nevertheless much of what he has to say echoes my own experiences of practising family law.
Nissenbaum explains how relationship breakdown brings out the worst in many people, especially where children are involved. "Every parent who has ever pushed for custody insists he or she is doing it out of love," he says in his book. "Hate is more like it.... Parents throw everything they have at the other side, the more disgusting, horrendous and despicable, the better." Yep: been there, done that.
He also explains how he has had to retain a sense of humour, despite the nature of the work. He says: "if I didn't laugh at some of the silliness these people do to one another, or the outrage, I'd have ridden my high horse straight into an institution by now". Yep, I can relate to that. He then gives a hilarious example, involving a client who had married a man in the process of transgendering.
But the best part of the article comes at the end, when Nissenbaum is asked whether, after four decades doing this work, he has learned a lot about the human condition. "I have, yes," he replies, "I have learned that we have a way to go yet. As humans, we need to evolve more, I think." Oh yes, I certainly concur with that one.