From Love to Divorce: Crazy and Crazier

Posted February 20, 2009 in Your Family & The Law by

They say love makes a person do crazy things.  That’s true.  However, taking a look at the world around us leads me to think that divorce makes a person do even crazier things.

A doctor and his wife are getting divorced and he wants her to give back the kidney he donated to her, or else $1.5 million to compensate for it.  Think about that for a moment.  He wants her to undergo surgery to return one of his kidneys or pay him for it.  Not only is it crazy sounding, but legally he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  That’s because a gift, in this case the kidney, is not something you can demand back.  Additionally, in this country it is illegal to buy or sell organs and, therefore, a monetary value cannot be fixed upon the kidney the doctor gave to his wife.

Too often the anger and pain of divorce drives people to lash out at one another and brings out the worst in them.  This is how people go 15 rounds over who gets what in divorce settlements.  Not only is all this rage and fighting unproductive, it’s also bad for your health.  Still, when things have reached the point where divorce is the only way out, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1.  Keep in mind the ultimate goal.  If your ultimate goal is to actually get a divorce, then every time you feel tempted to go to bat over who gets any particular thing take a deep breath and refocus your energies.  I knew a couple who decided to get divorced and six years later still hadn’t managed to get divorced and had forked over to their divorce attorneys nearly everything they had.  If your ultimate goal isn’t necessarily to get divorced but to make sure that you’re the one who gets to claim ownership of a family heirloom, then by all means, fight for that.

2.  Be clear with your attorney about your goal.  If you want to get divorced and get on with your life in a short period of time, let your attorney know.  If you want to bleed every cent you can out of your ex, let them know.  If you don’t care about anything except getting sole custody of your kids, let them know.  They can’t give you what you want unless you can first understand what you want and articulate it to them.

3.  Try to be pleasant.  For most couples going through a divorce, you might as well ask them to hold their breath for an hour or fly like a bird.  However, keep in mind that you are probably not the only person hurting.  Also, it’s a cliche but it’s still true: you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.  The nicer you can be the more likely you are to solve disputes quickly and with less drama.  Of course, you’re only one half of the solution just as you’re only one half of the problem.  If your soon-to-be-ex won’t play nice, decide if you really want to sink to their level.  It all goes back to the first point – know your ultimate goal.  An ultimate goal of getting divorced requires different strategies than an ultimate goal of making another person’s life as miserable as possible!  

4.  Whenever possible have a game plan.  If you’ve already discussed division of property either prior to marriage or prior to trying to get a divorce, let your attorney know.  Any prenuptial agreements that were drawn up need to be shown to your attorney immediately.  Also, whenever possible, keep a list of major purchases and note the date, specifically whether you acquired them before marriage, during marriage, or after a separation.

5.  Talk to your attorney about the laws that apply to you.  Your attorney can help you figure out whether or not you live in a community property state, how assets are divided, and even the tax implications of a divorce.

Divorce, like marriage, is something that should not be entered into lightly.  It will change your life significantly and has far reaching legal and emotional implications.  The most important question you can ask yourself before opting to get a divorce is, "Do I really want to do this?"  Fights can be resolved, anger can be assuaged, love can be rekindled.  Once you step foot on the road to divorce, though, things are going to get messy and it becomes highly unlikely that you will ever turn back.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to think not only with your heart, but also with your head.  And when you’re in the midst of a crisis, take deep breaths and try to avoid doing something crazy.

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