How to not get divorced? :)

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ryoung81
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How to not get divorced? :)

Postby ryoung81 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:33 pm

So, I'm starting school at the age of 31 -- so I have a wife and a 2 year old. I'll be working full-time and going to school part-time, I just can't justify the expense of taking 3 years off. I'm currently in oil & gas and will be more/less staying within the same network of professionals I currently work with when I graduate.

I'd be interested in hearing from others who have had a similar situation. How did you manage leaving your wife to be a single mother for the better part of 4 years? Did your kid know who you were? :)

What trade-offs did you make for family life?

Anyway, I'd appreciate anything (constructive....) everyone has to share.

Benjamin1987
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby Benjamin1987 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:43 pm

Finishing my first year now. Entered with a similar situation (younger by a few years and no kids). However, I'll share a few principles that have worked well for me:

1) Make sure your spouse is on board. Your futures are tied together, forever. This has to be something she wants to be a part of. With this path comes sacrifice and hard-work (for both of you).
2) Make sure your spouse understands the importance of doing well. Being a successful law student can mean great reward. Being a mediocre or below average law students can mean debt and wasted time. Be sure that you both understand that and are prepared to make the necessary decisions to get to the right end result.
3) Understand that you are going to have make a great deal of sacrifice. Less free time for yourself (if any). Make sure to search your soul and be sure you can live this way for several years.
4) Make sure it will even be possible. You have fundamentally important responsibilities at home and at work already. Is it going to be possible to add to that? Which of those three things will be most important? Make sure your priorities are straight and your actions follow.

Good luck! PM me if you want to discuss in greater detail.

nouseforaname123
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby nouseforaname123 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:54 pm

Graduating in a few weeks, I started out in a similar situation.

+1 to everything above.

My additions:

1. Set aside explicit time for family every week and don't miss it. I think it helped that my spouse knew that Friday nights belonged to the family, period.
2. Take care of everything non-law school/work/family related during the summer and winter breaks. Doctor's appointments, projects around the house, traveling to see family & friends, etc....
3. Avoid non-law school/work/family commitments during the school year.

Honestly, the first two years are really hard, but it gets better in years 3 and 4.

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nygrrrl
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby nygrrrl » Sun Apr 28, 2013 5:55 pm

nouseforaname123 wrote:Graduating in a few weeks, I started out in a similar situation.

+1 to everything above.

My additions:

1. Set aside explicit time for family every week and don't miss it. I think it helped that my spouse knew that Friday nights belonged to the family, period.
2. Take care of everything non-law school/work/family related during the summer and winter breaks. Doctor's appointments, projects around the house, traveling to see family & friends, etc....
3. Avoid non-law school/work/family commitments during the school year.

Honestly, the first two years are really hard, but it gets better in years 3 and 4.

This is great advice.

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tehkris
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby tehkris » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:03 pm

Thank you for this post OP, I'm in a similar situation minus the kids and was so curious as to how time between friends and family/school is managed. Great advice here :D

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lifestooquick
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby lifestooquick » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:18 pm

Just finished 2L, I'm married no kids (well I count my dog...haha). We struggled during 1L mostly because it was like I had this whole new life that he wasn't part of. So my biggest advice is to keep your wife involved in law school life - take her to events, introduce her to your classmates, keep her in the loop. Remember you're a team taking on this law school thing together (even if it sometimes feels like you're in it alone).

NonTradHealthLaw
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby NonTradHealthLaw » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:22 pm

Some excellent advice, especially the reserved Fridays.

A couple more nuggets:
1. Involve your spouse - make sure she's included in the occasional Bar Review or can watch some of your events (i.e., if your school has a required litigation trial, oral argument competition, or the like) (someone beat me to this one)
2. Try hard to leave the law jargon at school
3. Your spouse is not the appropriate party with whom to test your new debating chops
4. Remember this is likely harder on her than you - she doesn't have the same distraction, instead she's just dealing with the void your absence has created. My partner likened it to a period of mourning the first six months.
5. Above all, respect her to the same degree during school as you did before - her job is not to sober cab you home after a "study group" bender.

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Tekrul
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby Tekrul » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:05 pm

http://www.top-law-schools.com/biglaw-r ... ships.html

This link is not directly related as it is for biglaw and relationships not LS and relationships but I figure much of its advice is worthy to see.

Hutz_and_Goodman
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sun Apr 28, 2013 8:29 pm

I don't have a child, but I just finished year 1 and am married. I agree with everything above. This year was actually much better than I expected. The main things that I would add:
1. don't penny pinch. If you can't make dinner because you have to study, then spend the $ for take out or delivery.
2. there is no reason not to have a pretty good work/life balance until the last three or four weeks of each semester

TooOld4This
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby TooOld4This » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:33 pm

Good luck.
Last edited by TooOld4This on Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nouseforaname123
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby nouseforaname123 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:15 pm

I had a full-time professional career (first three years in PT program), wife and I have two kids under 5.

It can be done, but it takes discipline and understanding from your spouse.

On not seeing your kids for four years: That's a gross exaggeration. You won't see your kids for days at a time and it'll be like that for the duration of the semester, but you make time for your family and stick to it. And you will see your kids at winter break, spring break, and then during the summer.

I tried to have lunch at my oldest's daycare a couple of days a week. In truth, he didn't notice I was missing because I would see him in the morning and on the weekends. He did notice I was missing when I started my SA position. At that time, I was leaving just before he woke up and summer events were keeping me out late at night. We went out to dinner as a family on the first Friday night of the summer and he was downright giddy. He couldn't stop jumping up and down in the booth at the restaurant and he kept laying his head on my shoulder. He must have said, "Hi, Daddy" fifty times that night.

Yes, it will stress your marriage. I did notice that the first week after a semester was over was always an adjustment period for my wife and me as readjusted to having more time with each other.

I agree that it will impact your career, and you need to be explicit with your bosses that you intend to stay with the company post-graduation.

ryoung81
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby ryoung81 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:32 am

Thanks everyone for the helpful hints. If anyone else chances by this thread and has anything to add, please do :)

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YYZ
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby YYZ » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:50 am

If you could talk to a second year student in the part-time program, that would be very helpful. The workload may vary from school to school, especially Legal Writing. At SMU, Legal Writing dominates your time during the first 2 semesters. A second year student can give you reasonable expectations on your workload.

While you may think that everything is manageable until the last 3 weeks of the semester, be very careful about that thought process. You have to be realistic and expect at least the last half of the semester to suck up all of your free time.

Also, consider the importance of grades. You will be competing with students in the part-time program who don't work and have all day to study while you're at work. That puts those who work at a significant disadvantage. Unless you are exceptional, the fact that you work and want a decent amount of family will probably affect your grades. You'll hear lots of counterarguments to this point, but it's something you really need to keep in mind. A lot of the larger firms will have strict cut offs at top 10-25% percent. Now, whether they will value your work experience, who knows.

alex.feuerman
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby alex.feuerman » Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:52 am

Thanks guys this is all amazing. Starting 1L is the fall, married with two dogs...(lol). I'm so scared but my husband is totally on board. He was a champ during LSAT studying so I'm hoping everything will be all right if I look at school like a 9-5

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:07 am

alex.feuerman wrote:Thanks guys this is all amazing. Starting 1L is the fall, married with two dogs...(lol). I'm so scared but my husband is totally on board. He was a champ during LSAT studying so I'm hoping everything will be all right if I look at school like a 9-5

You will be fine. Law school shouldn't be more of a commitment than a full-time job would be, at least for most of the semester. OP's situation is harder because of working full-time plus law school part-time.

yukishirotomoe
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby yukishirotomoe » Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:56 am

I'm in a very similar situation. I'm still studying for LSAT (want to retake for scholarship)...planning to apply for the next cycle but now I'm pregnant. This means that when I start school next year I'll have a full-time job (which can get stressful sometimes but overall not too bad) and an infant at home/daycare.

My husband and I talked about law school and he's supportive. However somehow I don't think he fully understands what FT job + PT law school would entail. I'm a bit hesitant right now about law school because of the new circumstance.

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Clearly
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby Clearly » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:41 am

yukishirotomoe wrote:I'm in a very similar situation. I'm still studying for LSAT (want to retake for scholarship)...planning to apply for the next cycle but now I'm pregnant. This means that when I start school next year I'll have a full-time job (which can get stressful sometimes but overall not too bad) and an infant at home/daycare.

My husband and I talked about law school and he's supportive. However somehow I don't think he fully understands what FT job + PT law school would entail. I'm a bit hesitant right now about law school because of the new circumstance.

Just chiming in to say congrats!

ryoung81
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby ryoung81 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:42 am

yukishirotomoe wrote:I'm in a very similar situation. I'm still studying for LSAT (want to retake for scholarship)...planning to apply for the next cycle but now I'm pregnant. This means that when I start school next year I'll have a full-time job (which can get stressful sometimes but overall not too bad) and an infant at home/daycare.

My husband and I talked about law school and he's supportive. However somehow I don't think he fully understands what FT job + PT law school would entail. I'm a bit hesitant right now about law school because of the new circumstance.


You're right to be hesitant. It's not right, but mothers still have more responsibility with children typically. Mothers are also (typically) more emotionally attached and sensitive to 'deprivation' from their children. I'm not sure how great it would be for an infant to be without their mother for days at a time.

If you aren't too old, it's not a bad idea to let the kid get a couple of years older.

yukishirotomoe
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby yukishirotomoe » Fri May 03, 2013 1:11 pm

ryoung81 wrote:
yukishirotomoe wrote:I'm in a very similar situation. I'm still studying for LSAT (want to retake for scholarship)...planning to apply for the next cycle but now I'm pregnant. This means that when I start school next year I'll have a full-time job (which can get stressful sometimes but overall not too bad) and an infant at home/daycare.

My husband and I talked about law school and he's supportive. However somehow I don't think he fully understands what FT job + PT law school would entail. I'm a bit hesitant right now about law school because of the new circumstance.


You're right to be hesitant. It's not right, but mothers still have more responsibility with children typically. Mothers are also (typically) more emotionally attached and sensitive to 'deprivation' from their children. I'm not sure how great it would be for an infant to be without their mother for days at a time.

If you aren't too old, it's not a bad idea to let the kid get a couple of years older.


I'm not young (a couple of years younger than you, but approaching 30 soon).
I thought about postponing (and keep giving it more thoughts these days). The problem is...there is probably never gonna be a good time. I want to have two kids (unless this one in my belly turns out to be a devil in the future). If I postpone then I'll have to wait till my second child is born plus a couple of years for him/her to grow up a bit. By then I'll be a bit "too old" for such a change in career direction.

Law school was not something that I considered until I joined my current company. That's why I'm caught off-guard with the change of schedule (usually I'm pretty good at planning out my life). My child will be almost one year old next September, and with discipline and help from family I may be able to squeeze in law school before the second one comes.

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fundamentallybroken
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby fundamentallybroken » Fri May 03, 2013 1:30 pm

Solid advice from everyone. I'm now a rising 3L with a wife, a five-year-old, and now another on the way right in time for finals in the fall.

1L was really, really hard - mainly because it's a new schedule that everyone needs to learn. 2L was way easier because we all had our groove, and I was able to fit my school schedule in better with my life schedule.

Like others said, just make time to be completely with your family, and you'll be fine. (Of course, I'm FT school - I thought FT work and PT school would be just too much, as I'd likely let work fail before I let school or family fail. That said, there's always a way to make it work, and it just takes time to get in that groove.)

Good luck!

The Lucky One
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby The Lucky One » Fri May 03, 2013 2:08 pm

Just chiming in to thank everyone for the advice. I'm in a similar situation to the OP (married, two kids under 5, full-time job, freelance writing on the side), so I'm trying to mentally brace myself for the adjustment. My wife is great and fully on board, and her father and brother are both lawyers, so hopefully that will help prepare her. But yeah, it's gonna be tough. Will still see the kids every morning, but I'm trying to get in the mindset of treating Saturday like a full study day rather than a day to just hang out and take them grocery shopping and to the playground.

Not that it's easy with young kids, but setting aside a dedicated date night once a month or so might be a good idea -- your spouse is certainly going to need a break from the kids, and you from studying.

Lumieres
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby Lumieres » Thu May 09, 2013 3:44 pm

Tagged.

plaintiff-appellee
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby plaintiff-appellee » Sun May 19, 2013 10:57 am

I entered law school at 30 with three children and just graduated. My advice is to set up weekly date nights when your time belongs only to your wife. The hardest thing for her may be the uncertainty of your schedule, i.e. not knowing when you will be home. Also, make sure the work you are doing in your first year is geared towards the final exams. Anything else is a waste of time. Good grades open doors.

Finally, I am not sure of the wisdom of working full-time while going to law school. I worked part-time (software development) for the first 5 months of school but quit after I realized that my former career had the potential to hamstring my new career. I am not familiar with part-time programs. How do you do a summer internship if you are working full-time?

ryoung81
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby ryoung81 » Sun May 19, 2013 11:26 am

My situation is a little unique in that many of the people who do the work I do are attorneys, it is a JD advantaged field. So it is very possible I stay doing what I am doing now after graduation. It pays more than most graduates will make except for top tier big laws gigs. I just can't really justify the opportunity cost of taking the time off. I have a pretty good network with the boutique firms that work in my field, so with all that I am not as concerned with the summer internship issue.

I have decided to cut back my hours though, I will probably work 7-2. Part Time schedule allows you to take classes from 6-9, but I will also have access to the full time schedule. it is typically 8-11 hours a semester and you have to take a few hours in summer session to get out in 4 years. So the work is a bit less strenuous because there is less of it.

Many people have suggested a dedicated date night so I will do that for sure.

plaintiff-appellee
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Re: How to not get divorced? :)

Postby plaintiff-appellee » Sun May 19, 2013 12:05 pm

That makes sense. Best of luck!




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