Melissa is the child of parents who divorced in the 1970s, when divorce was still unpopular. Children back then did not tell their friends that their parents had divorced as it was “the secret” to keep. Her parents often fought over the children. Melissa still remembers some bitter fights over her father’s activities with the children during his very limited parenting time. Back then, he only saw the children for four (4) hours every other Sunday. There were no overnight visits, and holidays were not even considered.
These childhood memories of having divorced parents affected her for years, even after she had grown up and gotten married herself. Melissa believed that every divorce was like her parents. She never wanted to put her children through the fighting that she endured as a child. These memories affected her so deeply that Melissa would not divorce her husband for several years, because she was afraid to do the same thing to her children.
After she found the strength and courage to file for divorce, Melissa found a system that was not friendly to people who were filing on their own. She was treated rudely by court staff, who assumed that since Melissa was not an attorney, she could not possibly read and understand the law. Once Melissa hired an attorney, the attitudes she encountered were completely different. Little did the court staff know that Melissa was orchestrating a lot of the action herself because she had very little funds to pay her attorney’s fees. Melissa learned from her parents an important lesson –never talk badly to or about the children’s father. Children have a right to both the father’s love and the mother’s love.
This experience prompted her to make a difference. No one should be treated like this when a marriage is falling apart. The emotional stress alone from a failed marriage is difficult enough to bear, and the courts should do everything possible to ease the stress, not make it harder. This led her to pursue a paralegal degree, and then a law degree. Melissa knew she wanted to work in family law and help individuals use the divorce process to ignite a change in their lives, and the lives of their children, for the better.
Melissa is not only an attorney, but also a counselor of law. She educates her clients on the impacts that divorce will have on the children, and what the client can do to minimize this impact. Melissa stresses the fact that children are children and should never be involved in the divorce process, even in the case of adult children.