Divorce is a financial transaction just like dissolving a business, partnership or corporation. It is mostly a matter of money. But because the partnership was once romantic, and based on the most intimate bond humans can form, its disruption wreaks havoc on human emotion.
What might seem otherwise like a logical division of income, assets and property, becomes a battle of wills and hearts and egos. And what worse place to take such an unruly battle than to the courtroom, the place where logic and reason prevail over passion and emotion? This is why divorce court is so unsatisfying- people want an all out battle to avenge their broken hearts or their bruised egos, but the court only wants to divide what it can- the marital estate- money, property and things. And in a no-fault state, which means that anyone who wants “out” can simply file for divorce without having to prove any reason, such as adultery, fault is largely irrelevant.
Tell that to a cuckolded spouse who still has to fork over half his pay for life. “It’s not fair…” is the familiar moan, or “I would rather give it to my lawyer than to my spouse”. But when the legal bills come due, and you end up paying your lawyer for essentially an emotionally unsatisfying fight, you wish you had taken that trip to Europe, bought that antique sports car, had the plastic surgery, paid for your children’s college, or whatever else is on your list of fancies. Giving it to your lawyer to spite your spouse never seems to feel very good in the end, except to your lawyer.
This is why I am in favor of “Green Divorce” (mediation). Or, if you are going to litigate, have something to fight about. Perhaps you really do not agree on the value of the family business. You think it is worth $100,000 and he/she thinks it is worth $1,000,000. That does make a difference in the division of a marital estate, and that is something the courts can be helpful with. Or the future value of a pension, or the speculative nature of the value of future assets, such as the earnings of a stock broker or professional athlete.
But courts are not the place to seek redress for broken hearts, angry feelings, bruised egos, or a desire to punish your departing spouse.
Celebrity divorces such as Tiger Woods’ usually show us what our issues look like only under a spotlight and on steroids- the issues are the same only magnified many times and seen under a microscope, with many more zeroes.
We can all learn our lessons by watching someone else go through the school of hard knocks. No need to have to learn everything ourselves. If it’s a bitter pill for someone else to swallow, chances are it won’t taste much better to us.
When it comes to divorce, let cooler heads prevail, let reason, not emotion sway your decision. Work out your feelings with your therapist, and know that it’s almost always just about money when you go to your lawyer. The courts will be of little help when it comes to making you right and your ex wrong.
You will pay to get divorced- but how much and to whom is more in your hands than you may realize if you keep an open heart, a cool head, and allow logic and reason, not poison emotion, to prevail.