In Time Anger Diminishes But The Results of Angry Acts Live On
If you are considering divorce or are just starting to think about initiating the divorce process, you and your spouse will undoubtedly have feelings of, among others, anger, fear, uncertainty, jealousy, and betrayal. These feelings can ruin your ability to have a collaborative and cooperative divorce; thus harming your longterm interests. The question is: Can you accept these feelings and still act in your longterm best interests by choosing divorce mediation as the process by which you divorce?
The divorce disaster is a product of the negative feelings that accompany divorce combined with the legal system itself which is inherently based on opposition, not cooperation. Most divorce litigation lawyers by nature do NOT emphasize the common interests of the couple. Lawyers are trained to approach each case as if is to be a fight to the finish, and the increased billable hours associated with a fight do not hurt their bottom lines either. The reality is that 99% of divorce cases settle without trial. This begs the question, why burn the family to the ground only to settle in the end?
For those entering the litigation legal system to determine their divorce, the presumption is that a judge will decide the truth of your issues during trial and will be able to see through the distortions put forward by the two opposing attorneys. The realities of the situation is that more than 99% of divorce cases never go to trial and instead settle before trial and thus before the judge ever decides the truth. So the question you need to ask is whether the legal system is the best way to produce your settlement – the answer is an absolute no.
The Case Of Jim & Diane
Jim and Diane have been married 13 years. They have two children, 12 and 10. Diane left the workforce years ago to focus on the children and became resentful of Jim’s freedom outside the home. Not liking to fight, except for the occasional blow up, they kept their resentment inside and festering. A little over a year ago Jim started having an affair with a co-worker named Karen and he’s fallen for her and the excitement she brings to his life. Jim finally discloses his desire for a divorce and Diane is surprised and hurt. Diane starts telling some friends who recommend that she get an aggressive lawyer to make Jim pay for his betrayal.
She hires said lawyer who files the divorce action charging every bad act that Jim has done to her over their decade plus marriage. The lawyer has the complaint served on Jim at his office in order to try to embarrass him and Diane loves it. She’s gotten him back a bit for all that he’s done to her. Meanwhile Jim is outraged that Diane put every lurid detail of their private life on display, especially since he assured her that he wanted a fair and equal separation. But not now. Now he’s ready to fight and he gets referred to a lawyer known for standing up for the right of men in the courtroom. This shark files a counterclaim and claims Diane doesn’t clean, she is a bad mother, and denies him sexual relations. This confirms to Diane that Jim is the biggest scumbag in the world. How could she ever have married him? Her friends now tell her that they hated him for years – so dismissive and condescending and not a good father they say.
A few months pass and Jim and Diane are still living together. The atmosphere though is totally toxic but neither wants to lose rights to the house so they stay per their attorneys suggestions. The kids are exposed to the deadly silence of hatred. Diane starts to look for work but her attorney encourages her to wait because if she starts to earn an income now, it will reduce her spousal support and child support from Jim. So even though she desires to start focusing on her future, she doesn’t. Finally after a few more months, Jim moves out but moves 25 miles away where he can afford a small apartment. They agree at first that Jim will take the kids every other weekend. But after just a few visits to Dad’s new digs, the kids don’t want to go back. They tell Diane that there is nothing to do and that Karen is always there and that she’s mean and strict. And because he had to move so far away, they can’t see their friends on those weekends and are just stuck doing screen time.
Diane is totally outraged and decides to have her attorney file a motion with the judge to eliminate one of Jim’s weekends and to make it so that Karen cannot be present during that visit. Both attorneys start billing at $325 per hour (if you’re lucky) and the motion and counter motion are filed and then argued. The judge agrees with Diane’s lawyer and cuts Jim’s visitation in half and bans Karen from the scene.
Diane’s lawyer is thrilled. He won for her but did she really win? Let’s evaluate the realities:
- The entire fight cost the family $6000. NOT A WIN!
- Diane needs and desires free time to figure out her future and career but now she has even less time. She has the kids all but 2 days a month. NOT A WIN!
- When Diane happens to meet a friend of the opposite sex, she unfortunately has set the precedent in their case that this person cannot be around the kids. Jim will certainly file a motion with the court to get her back if she starts bringing a boyfriend around his kids. This means that this boyfriend can only sleep over the 1-2 nights per month that she’s not with the kids. NOT A WIN!
- Yes another consequence is that this mini legal fight has taught these two to talk through their lawyers. In the future, rather than sending an email or text, when Jim wishes to discuss something with Diane, he contacts his lawyer who then calls Diane’s lawyer who then delivers the news. Between the back and forth, and the lawyers not being available until Thursday and being out for lunch, a simple request can take 3 weeks and $450 dollars in legal fees. This is not a productive system. NOT A WIN!
Now let’s fast forward 3 years. The couple’s divorce was finally finalized about a year ago after 2 costly grueling years of litigation. They settled just one day before their trial was set to begin and so they didn’t even get a judge to decide who did what and whether that mattered. Both lawyers generated roughly $30,000 in fees. Jim is now remarried to Karen but it’s not going great. They have issues because Jim’s two kids do not like Karen and have been empowered by Diane to act out against her. Jim misses the relationship and bond he once shared with the two kiddos. Diane in the meantime is working her tale off and between her income, child and spousal support, she can pay the bills and that’s it. She has almost no extra money and no matter how much she works, it doesn’t seem to change. She is constantly tired and dreads having to come home to a filthy home and is fighting with the kids often to get their help. Her daughter is rebelling and is doing worse in school. She is hanging out with the wrong crowd and her son no longer wants to play baseball or soccer, and just plays video games and watches youtube. It’s a constant fight with him but she is working so much that she can’t control them when she’s not present. Diane has had zero time to try to develop a real relationship and only had two uncomfortable dates, both guys she found on tinder. It was not what she was hoping.
Jim and Diane have experienced a bad divorce. The myth of winning took hold during their litigation and they allowed their real needs to be dominated by the legal contest. They are like millions of others who rely on the litigation system to handle their separation for them and left them unable to trust each other, with much less property, harmed and damaged children, and a compromised future. They were hoping this divorce would transition their lives into something better but instead the adversarial divorce litigation system caused them to act in ways damaging to their own needs and interests.
The objective of your divorce is a negotiated settlement that meets the needs of the family and only the divorce mediation services available to you through Scott Levin and his colleagues can accommodate these objectives. For the right path forward for the Jims and Dianes out there, please consult with Scott Levin and our San Diego Divorce Mediation experts right now. Call us at 858-255-1321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check back to our blog soon to read more lessons from Jim, Diane and other real life examples of bad divorces.