You want to be with your children on every holiday, every birthday and every weekend—but your soon-to-be-ex-spouse feels the same way. When deciding on a custody agreement, there may be areas where both you and your ex want different things. The question is: How do you know when to be firm and when to be flexible?
You’ve worked hard building your career, raising your children and accumulating assets. Now, you’re entering into a second marriage…Should a prenuptial agreement be part of the equation to protect these important parts of your life?
Throughout her 35 years of practicing law—most of it in the field of family law—Susan Hais has received quite a collection of cards and letters. “I have gotten lots of feedback from people throughout the years,” she says. “I have a special drawer in my desk where I place that letter or thank-you card, so I can always remember why I keep doing it.”
Katherine Marie Bear and Adam Joseph Brown
If actions speak louder than words, knowing how someone spends her time may be the most telling aspect of the individual. Family law attorney Susan Hais, of Hais, Hais & Goldberger, spends hers focused on her clients.
In your pocket or handbag, there's a piece of electronic equipment so powerful it would make George Jetson swoon. St. Louis attorneys weigh in on how smart phones—as well as email, social media and other forms of e-communication—have changed how they practice law.
To assist in the areas where legalities and finances overlap, family law firm Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Lambson has brought in a new, dual-role team member: a legal professional who also is a certified divorce financial analyst.
Susan and Sam Hais
One goal inspired Sam and Susan Hais to go to law school: justice. Decades later, that same goal remains the driving force of their law firm, Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Lambson. “What really matters to us is achieving the Holy Grail in the law field, which is justice,” Sam says. “We believe justice is a right, not a privilege.”
Susan and Sam Hais of Hais Hais Goldberger and Lambson
Originally an English major at Saint Louis University with a penchant for 19th century literature, Susan Hais remembers being drawn toward the field of law because she wanted to make a difference. “There was a book called The Women’s Room about women doing things and getting involved in fields they weren’t into at the time,” Hais says. “That’s when I decided I wanted to go to law school.”
Susan and Sam Hais
A divorce can be one of life’s most difficult hurdles. And for men who often don’t share their emotions as openly as women, surviving the process can become overwhelming without a 'road map' for navigating the legal, financial and emotional issues that arise, says E.B. Gunn, New York Times best-selling author of The Gentleman’s Guide to the Nasty Divorce.
The simple, straightforward days of the standard American family with a house, car, pension, dog and a couple of kids no longer exist. The world has become more complex, with a growing number of issues factoring into the dynamics of a family. As that complexity has in- creased, so has domestic relations law; and Sam and Susan Hais offer their decades of experience to help clients navigate the intricacies. “It’s never a one-size-fits-all approach,” Sam says. “Family law cases are often finely nuanced, and we work hard to apply our skill-sets and experience to find appropriate solutions to the problems.”
Sam and Susan Hais
When Susan Hais started her family law practice in 1979, she knew it would be both an opportunity and a challenge. With recent changes in the divorce statute, the field was encountering more litigation, and as one of the few women practicing divorce law, she relished the chance to work in an area that truly appealed to her. “Divorce work is the kind of practice where you can relate to your clients, make them feel better about their lives and really make a difference. It was the right fit for me.”
Sam and Susan Hais
Gaslight, with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, is a 1944 thriller that tells the story of husband who tries to make his wife believe she is insane as he tries to retrieve some jewels stowed away in their attic. “The only way he could get the jewels was to make her think she was crazy. As a result, she started to have a real breakdown, and that’s what some people do in real life,” says Susan Hais of Hais, Hais, Goldberger & Coyne. “Usually, it’s people who are suffering from a condition called narcissism—characterized chiefly by a person being focused entirely on his or herself and is motivated by the desire to look good at the expense of others.” She says in a marriage, the situation can play out in a number of ways. “For example, the husband gets irritated with the wife due to something called a narcissistic insult. This could be something perceived as mildly critical against him, but he takes on an attitude of incredible revenge and never gives it up.”
They’re highly regarded in the St. Louis law community, as well as by former clients who keep in touch for years with cards and family photos. She’s been practicing family law for more than three decades; he was a family court judge for 26 years before joining her law firm in 2002. Impressive longevity, indeed, but Susan and Sam Hais seem to know the secret to successful long-term partnerships: The couple just celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary.
Divorce is never easy: Two people are dividing up their entire lives, with children, homes and assets involved. The process can be long and difficult, so it is imperative to choose the right attorney from the onset.
Often described as one of life’s most difficult experiences, divorce disrupts families and finances, and if the process is complicated with hostility and anger, it becomes even harder for everyone involved. Family law attorneys, familiar with the intense emotions that most often accompany the dissolution of a marriage, have advice for couples facing this challenge.
Sam and Susan Hais. photo by Dan Donovan
Family businesses are widespread throughout our country and around the world, and for good reason. When family ties are strong, a robust, profitable business can result. In St. Louis, we have found several families with multiple generations making their way in the field of law.
December 24, 2010 . Sam and Susan Hais