“In North Carolina, couples have to be separated for a year and a day before they can file for divorce. So that’s the starting point for the book,” said Raleigh divorce lawyer Jaime H. Davis. Her just-published book is entitled A Year and a Day: Divorce without Destruction.
“It’s during that year that important decisions need to be made about the finances, about custodial schedules, and all sorts of things. Hopefully, a year and a day after the parties separate, they will have amicably separated their finances and determined a custodial schedule while not destroying their family relationships in the process,” said Davis.
The idea for the book came from Davis’s eponymous podcast she’s been hosting since 2017. She wanted to combine topics from the podcast plus other information into a book for people who are considering divorce, as well as therapists, accountants, and other professionals who work with divorcing couples.
“It is a good reference guide, because it provides a general overview of the law, as well as some tips for how you can navigate the process, and it provides a bit of self-help,” said Davis. “Maybe the person has been told by their spouse that the spouse wants to separate, or maybe they haven’t been married at all, but they’re dealing with some child custody issues. Either way, this book can be a good resource.”
“There is a chapter about self-care, specifically, and things that you can do to take care of yourself emotionally while you’re going through the process. Divorce is a legal process, but it also has some highly emotional aspects to it, and it’s important to make sure that you are caring for your mental and emotional health,” explained Davis.
“One of the goals of the book is to provide an individual with enough information to know what questions they should consider asking when they meet with a divorce lawyer. My advice remains to talk to a lawyer, because every situation is different. Don’t try to do this on your own.”
NOT “WAR OF THE ROSES”
The book opens with a reference to the 1989 movie “War of the Roses,” in which a divorcing couple, played by Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, set out to win at all costs and destroy one another. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. Divorce doesn’t have to be destructive,” writes Davis.
“When it comes to child custody issues, it’s not about winning. It’s not about you. It really is about what is best for your children. I tell clients quick isn’t always right. The goal is to get it done correctly.”
Davis is a partner at Gailor Hunt Jenkins Davis Taylor & Gibbs, PLLC. The Raleigh native said she knew in fifth grade she wanted to be a lawyer. During her second year at UNC School of Law, she found family law to be her calling.
Davis focuses her practice on complex equitable distribution cases typically involving cases where one of the spouses is a business owner. She also handles high-conflict child custody cases, interstate relocation cases, premarital agreements, post-nuptial agreements, and separation agreements. Davis is certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission as a Family Financial Mediator and often serves as a volunteer mediator for Wake County Family Court.
“I like being able to help my clients. I also like dealing with the business side of family law,” said Davis. “I enjoy the opportunity that family law gives me to touch on different areas of the law dealing with contracts, corporate issues or trust and estate issues. There are so many different areas of law that family law encompasses.”
“I believe my job is to be my clients’ guide and to help them through this process with the understanding that they are going through one of the most emotionally difficult times of their lives. Folks say that next to the death of a loved one, a divorce is one of the most difficult things that a person will endure in their life. I try to be mindful of that fact while helping my clients make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”
“I treat every client the way I would want a lawyer to treat my mother or father if they walked into a lawyer’s office,” said Davis. “I describe my approach as smartly aggressive, and what I mean by that is I am willing to go to court when I need to advocate for my client. But at the same time, I am very pragmatic and I want to reach a practical solution for my client outside of court if possible. It’s not about winning, it’s about fixing what’s broken.”
A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE
Jaime Davis and her first husband divorced several years ago. At the time, she had very young children. Davis is now remarried and has a blended family.
“Having gone through a separation and divorce myself gives me a unique perspective when I’m working with my clients,” said Davis. “I can talk to them about the pros and cons of a particular custody schedule and how that schedule might work for their family. It also taught me the importance of putting the children first. Just do whatever is best for them and the rest of it will fall into place.”
Davis found an unexpected dividend from doing the research for the book and listening to previous podcasts. “Writing this book required me not only to think about the law, but it reminded me of the human aspect of divorce and family law. I talk to my clients about their problems, and I try to help them. Part of being a lawyer is being a counselor, so it’s always good to step back and take a look at the situation from the client’s perspective.”