Vengeance Harms Both Parties During A Divorce
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico
I often hear one or the other of divorcing parents say, "that's his problem," or "that's her problem," when in fact most of their problems are like community property--each owns half--even after the divorce. And, most of their problems can be solved only if they cooperate and compromise.
A fairly common occurrence following a divorce is for one parent to turn the other parent into the Internal Revenue Service, seemingly overlooking the reality that each of them has a finite amount of money, and if one is spending money to pay a tax accountant or lawyer to deal with the IRS, he or she will have less money available to pay other things--such as one's share of community debts or child support.
The most memorable example that I've seen of a party being confused about who owns the problem was the following case.
While on their honeymoon a husband told his wife about his sordid past--something of which he was ashamed. He confessed that in his younger days he has committed a crime.
Five years and two children later, the wife filed for divorce, and she decided to "get him good." She went to the police. She told them about the crime, which had remained unsolved. She agreed to war a tape recorder home and try to encourage the husband to confess again, which he did.
The wheels of the criminal justice system began to turn, which, resulted in the husband losing his job, which resulted in the parties losing their home to foreclosure.
In the end, the father was not prosecuted because of the rule of law that husbands and wives are now allowed to testify against one another.
The ultimate irony in the case that the mother ended up having to accept a minimum wage job at a fast-food restaurant, and the father ended up with primary custody of the children. It turned out that he was unable to find a job at all, and they couldn't afford day care on the wife's meager wages. In fact, the father was an excellent father. His life of crime has been a one-time, foolish act.
Divorcing parents who have an urge to do one another in almost always end up hurting themselves.
Some of my friends who say the movie "the War of the Roses" thought it was a comedy. I thought it was a documentary. Lawyers desperately need to learn that cooperation and compromise are in their clients' best long-term interests and then they need to convince their clients that it's so.
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