Family law attorney offers tips to ?help your children?

 by Tom Kirvan

Legal News
Like many family law attorneys, Armand Velardo knows that the emotional impact of divorce on children “is usually brutal and long lasting.” 
Let him count the ways he can help.  
It was 153, but the figure now tops 160. They are neatly contained in his “Ways to Help Your Children During and After a Divorce,” a pamphlet that is regularly “supplemented based on the experiences of others,” according to Velardo. 
First and foremost, the 51-year-old Velardo urges those in the throes of marital problems to “attempt reconciliation” for the sake of their children. That is No. 1. It is joined at the hip by No. 7: 
“If you are feeling down/
depressed, take an inventory of the good things in your life; place your children first on the list.” 
That, seemingly, would be the ultimate “no-brainer,” but Velardo knows well that logic and reason are words seldom framed in the context of divorce. 
“People like to play the blame game, become totally self-absorbed, and often lose sight of what is truly important in life, principally the welfare of their children,” Velardo says. “These tips that I’ve accumulated over my years of family law practice are common-sense reminders that can get lost in the muck of divorce.”
Velardo, a native of Detroit and a summa cum laude graduate of Wayne State University, can speak from experience. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1996, offering him an unexpected opportunity to take stock of his life, some 14 years after he began his legal career following graduation from WSU Law School. 
“I know firsthand that there is nothing easy about divorce, even if it is handled amicably,” Velardo says. “There is a hurt that can be long lasting and there is a healing that needs to take place.” 
For Velardo, divorce led him down a legal path he had not anticipated after devoting much of his legal career to tax, business, and estate planning matters. He earned his L.L.M. in taxation from Wayne State in 1986, three years after becoming a CPA. 
“Family law is a field where you have an opportunity to really offer counsel to people, to get in, get out, and let the healing begin,” Velardo says. “Each case is unique and has its own special set of challenges, which is why I began developing this list.”
Velardo’s father came to the U.S. from Italy at age 12 and worked as a statistician in the defense industry after earning his degree from Wayne State.  “He so much appreciated the opportunities he was given to obtain an education and to work in an important industry,” Velardo says of his father, who died in 2006. 
His mother, Yolanda, lives in Clinton Township, where she stays in close touch with her four children.
Five years into his legal career, working as an associate for a large Detroit law firm, Velardo decided to run for political office. Not just any office, mind you. Velardo, 30 years old at the time, opted to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, hoping to unseat Democratic incumbent Donald Riegle in the 1988 election. 
His long shot bid did not meet with the approval of the executive committee at the Detroit law firm. As a result, Velardo withdrew from the Senate race and eventually left the firm.  
Six years later, he would take a second crack at unseating a popular Democratic incumbent, this time U.S. Rep. David Bonior, a congressman since 1976. Velardo’s bid for the GOP nomination received editorial support from The Detroit Free Press, but nothing could stop Bonior.
Despite the political setbacks, Velardo is keeping his “options open” about a future run for public office, including a possible candidacy for a judgeship.
“I like to be involved,” Velardi says. “It’s our duty to be engaged in the political process. That is one thing that will never change for me.” 
Velardo, a partner in the Mount Clemens firm of Ruggirello, Verlardo, Novara & Ver Beek, has a passion for the law and for helping others. His wife of nine years, Valerie, a social worker for Adult Protective Services, shares his desire to lend a helping hand. 
“I over-married with her,” Velardo says of his wife, who has two children, Andre (24) and Alicia (18). “She is such a wonderful wife and mother, and she really takes her job to heart.” 
Her devotion to the needs of the vulnerable dovetails nicely with a story from Velardo’s law school days at Wayne State. It revolves around a 61-year-old man, a veteran of World War II, who spent five days in an East Detroit bus shelter, “waiting for a ride that never came,” according to a July 1981 Detroit News account of the incident, entitled “A man with nowhere to go finds a friend.”  The man, reportedly a former patient at a VA Hospital, had wandered off and was stationed at the bus stop awaiting a ride from a relative. Five days later, he was still there, a case of bureaucratic neglect. 
When Velardo heard of the man’s plight, he decided it was time for someone to take action, quickly determining that more than once segment of society had dropped the ball. Within a day, Velardo had helped usher the man back to hospital care, safe and sound. 
“I mean, here we’re all celebrating Independence Day and here’s a guy who went off to fight a war and something happened to him and now he sits at a bus stop for five days and nobody gives a damn,” Velardo said in the 1981 News article. 
But someone did. Velardo’s work on behalf of the man lines up well with No. 153 on his list of “Ways to Help Your Children. . .” 
Writes Velardo: “Remember, your children are always watching and listening; set a good example for them.”