Learn about divorce when you first get together!

New couples should all learn about divorce, says Harvard Law Professor, Jeannie Suk Gersen, who talks about how to prevent damaging family break-ups down the track.

Welcome a rare professional working to make her profession redundant. Harvard Law Professor, Jeannie Suk Gersen, teaches innovative ways to prevent family strife and break-up: “Learn about divorce when you first get together”, she says.

In a BBC Radio 4 Positive Thinking discussion, experts said her advice isn’t very romantic. But maybe that’s her whole point. In her TED talk (2019) Professor Suk Gersen says that waiting until separation is painfully too late to learn about it.

For the children, once family law gets going, she says: “Even with extraordinary efforts, there is little chance of children not being ‘pawns’. … So many [couples] play out emotional grievance through the legal process, on the road to spending tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars they cannot afford …”

She says that fighting through lawyers is like this: “… who spent more time with the children, who worked longer hours, who made more money, who sacrificed a job or earning potential, who supported whom through formative periods …” The three key principles for an early discussion about divorce are: 1. Sacrifice should be a fair exchange; 2. There’s no such thing as free child care; and 3. What’s yours probably will become ours.

Professor Jeannie Suk Gersen confirms that the world’s current way to do family break up – turning to family law – is a lose-lose-lose way to do it. Especially for the kids. Only the lawyers win. Her message may be unromantic but very wise.