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FS-Transference of Affection & 10 Tips of Divorce
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Question: My husband and I began seeing a female counselor. I paid the bills, but it seemed that she was taking my husband's side. When my husband went to a lawyer, I also hired one. When my husband suggested that he should move out, I got suspicious and hired a detective who found him and the counselor sharing dinner and then a hotel room.

When confronted, my husband said that he was going to marry her. In return for giving up most of the assets we acquired and paying me alimony, he wants me to release the counselor from liability. I want to sue. Do I have a case?

Answer: "Transference" is when a person displaces his/her feelings onto someone else, in this case, the therapist. Because transference is central to the treatment of marital and sexual problems, and because the counselor should have known better, we believe you may have a case for medical malpractice and intentional infliction of emotional distress, depending on the law of your state. Regardless of who was the aggressor or "whose fault it was," it was the therapist's professional responsibility to reject these overtures.

However, as with most marital issues, yours comes down to a matter of money. First, find out from your lawyer how much your husband could get if he pursued his claim for property division and objected to you getting support. Then find out from a plaintiff's lawyer if you have a case and, if so, the range of recovery, how long it will take to complete the case, how much you will be required to pay, and, if you win, whether the payout will be taxable to you. Although you're upset, and we understand that, you should balance the benefits and detriments of bringing a suit, including the potential emotional toll.

Question: Some years ago, a friend sent me your "Ten Tips" for divorce that I lost. Where can I find them?

Answer: The full-blown "Ten Tips" can be found at Here they are in a summarized format.

1) Panic and emotions have no place in the decision-making process, so understand your options, channel your energies and make informed decisions.

2) The advice of friends and family can confuse you, so listen to the professionals you hire and trust your instincts.

3) Decide on your goals early, keep them in perspective and remember that you must cross the finish line yourself because your lawyer can't do it all for you.

4) Because litigated divorces may take years and cost tens of thousands of dollars, don't lose control of your case. If this happens, you will lose control of your life and place yourself at the mercy of the judicial system.

5) Do your best to maintain open channels of communication with the other side and to negotiate as many of the issues as you can.

6) Because many divorces are resolved in last-minute settlements that are to no one's satisfaction, come to terms with the fact that you may never find finality.

7) If the court decides your case, you lose control of your options. And if you don't like the result, your only remedy may be a costly appeal that keeps your life in turmoil.

8) Fighting for principle -- or just to fight -- is a bad decision. But, at the same time, you should not give up on important matters just to try to get the case over.

9) Never sign an agreement without the advice of a lawyer, and don't allow one lawyer to prepare an agreement for you and your spouse. You always need your own lawyer.

10) Even the best economic result does not guarantee you security. A former spouse can die owing alimony or support. Bankruptcy may be used to try to avoid obligations required by divorce courts. So make sure your lawyer builds in as many protections as possible.

Need more advice or help with this topic? Click here to get information about taking the "Next Step".

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Suggested Reading:
Separation and Divorce Guidebook
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FS-Be Wary of Credit Issues with Ex
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FS-Becareful of Bargaining Away Alimony As Child Support
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FS-Lawyer Tells Me to Lie & Pension Double Dipped
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FS-On and Off Again Reconciles Can Create Agreement Disasters
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FS-The Dangers of Family Loans
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FS-Transference of Affection & 10 Tips of Divorce
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