Saturday, March 22, 2014

Divorce Brings Out the Worst in People

Nothing about this story will surprise anyone. Nothing about it will even be controversial.

Divorce brings out the worst in people. It makes them do things that no rational, sane adult would even consider doing.

It’s as though divorce shuts down one’s moral sense, to the point where the will to inflict pain on another person, the will to punish, supersedes any and all sense of how this might look to other people.

The Huffington Post has collected a few examples.

Here are a few, mostly recounted by divorce lawyers:

I had a couple arguing for three hours over who got the kids on Christmas day, only to discover at the end that they were both Jewish.

And this:

I had a case where the estranged wife was calling my client's employer repeatedly, accusing him of theft and other white-collar crimes, [in an attempt] to get my client fired. The thing is, the children were with her, and she was also demanding child support. Which is based on his income. For the job from which she was trying to get him fired. (Fortunately, the employer was onto her BS and my client wasn't let go.)

And finally:

I dated a divorce lawyer and my favorite story from his work was the man who was super pissed that the division of assets was 50/50 and that his wife's lawyer had a forensic accountant who found his multiple offshore money stashes. In retaliation, he demanded half the dog. Not joint custody. Half of the dog, who was his wife's much beloved, very spoiled little buddy. He burned through thousands of dollars of legal fees just to make her cry, by demanding that the dog be put to sleep and its ashes split, 50/50.


Lastango said...

For that reason, it astounds me that gays want to marry.

They already had the threat of palimony. To that they are adding alimony, asset splits, custody fights, invalidated prenups, and the joys of being dragged through family court.

Perhaps they think that, as a cossetted political class, they won't be defrauded and otherwise victimized by the legal system the way heterosexual men are.

Granted, we are not hearing a lot about the perils of gay marriage, but the cone of silence long ago descended over the gay lifestyle. One dirty secret, for example, is the epidemic rate of domestic violence in gay relationships.

Jacque Small said...

Your observations of what couples do to each other when they go through divorce is correct. And it doesn't need to be this way.

In recently published book Divine Divorce, I share a new Technique that people can use to let go of all the anger and disappointment that they feel. When we let go of the negative emotional energy then we can make more grounded choices and the wisdom of standard divorce therapy can be applied more effectively.


Ares Olympus said...

There isn't much art in pointing out the worst cases of anything, although I suppose that's why they say "All is fair in love and war", and lawyers can fuel the fire for profit.

My parents divorced pretty kindly when I was 11, had joint custody of me and my siblings. My dad moved out, let my mom keep the house under her name, and he kept his company stocks which were worth less than the house. He continued to repair things around the house over the years.

They married later, in their mid-30s, and neither remarried. Maybe people are kinder when they marry when they're older? Or maybe children reduce the insanity of people, because there's common interest neither person can deny?

I recall hearing no-fault divorce was an important law change, starting in 1969 in California apparently. At least it reduced the incentive of lawyers to exaggerate abuse, neglect, infidelity and stuff.

It is interesting and scary to hear older married men seem to do better than older unmarried men, while women don't have the same disadvantage.

Conservatives have been pushing "Covenant marriages" for a while, but I've not heard if their limitations on divorce have improved the behavior of couples in this more religious institution or its dissolution.

On a different issue, I'm afraid I've never actually heard of a couple who benefitted from couples therapy, although I'd wish mediation could help resolve differences. OTOH, I do know couples who have divorced and remarried, so perhaps separation isn't a terrible idea.

I remember joking with friends in my 20's that marriages should have expiration dates where they are automatically annulled unless renewed. Its not helpful if there are children involved, but it does help reduce the false idea that you "own" your spouse, especially in cases where women find themselves empty-nested, and wanting to expand her horizons in ways that can be threatening to a husband too busy in his career to adapt to this wife he no longer knows.

I've been thinking recently about respect and self-respect, and what that looks like within relationships and marriage.

I guess I'm conservative in the sense that I'd rather stay in an unhappy marriage and see what happens, but that's sort of a martyr's position if a spouse is blaming you for their unhappiness rather than asking about their partial responsibility for yours. So somehow respect and self-respect are needed to face these issues.

JKB said...

I saw one of those lists on the internet, this one listing the crazy origin to wedding customs. Seems a lot of them, such as carrying over the threshold, were to avoid evil spirits. Seems to me the evil spirits just bide their time and come on like gangbusters when things head to divorce.

Sam L. said...

Well, Lastango, I've always heard that homosexuals looooooove drama. And divorce is drama, perhaps King Lear on a personal level.