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News & Notes
I was finishing a very contentious collaborative divorce. The husband and wife had been married almost 20 years and the marriage ended badly with a lot of discord but they shared a commitment to co-parenting their children. It was not the lovey-dovey case that most people imagine collaborative divorces to be, but they worked very hard and we came up with a deal that suited both of them. We gathered for the signing ceremony and were waiting for the notary to arrive. Someone suggested that we ought to sit and have a beer while we waited and our host happened to have some in the fridge. The husband and wife decided they didn’t want a whole beer and decided to share one. It was an intimate moment that seemed to bring back memories of many times shared. The notary arrived, the papers were signed. As we stood up to leave, the husband and wife looked at each other and hugged. As they held each other, he tenderly petted her hair and each thanked the other for everything that had worked in their marriage and for working so hard to come to agreement.
For a Springfield, Missouri, lawyer a peak experience that came to mind was at the conclusion of a guardianship proceeding involving a female patient in the adult psychiatric unit in a hospital that she represented:
Her partner was unable to care for her any longer, as he was very ill. Our patient was not safe to leave the hospital without a guardian, as she was severely mentally ill, and could not be relied upon to take her prescribed medications on her own. Thankfully, the court appointed the public administrator to serve as this patient’s guardian. As I was leaving the courthouse that day, the patient’s long-term partner approached me with tears in his eyes. He was frail and very thin, and was coughing up blood into his handkerchief. He told me that he was dying of AIDS and that he could no longer take care of his beloved. He had managed her medications for many years, but his doctor told him that he would die very soon, so he decided it was time to find someone else to take care of her. He took my hand, looked into my eyes, and thanked me for obtaining a guardian for his one true love. He explained that he could now die in peace because he knew she would be taken care of.