I suppose I’m not surprised that many of my clients are divorced or about to be. I heard a statistic that 50% of marriages in America end in divorce. That’s terribly sad, especially when you consider the effect on children. Even adult or semi-adult children can be scarred for many years. I don’t know why so many people decide they can’t live with one another. Maybe it’s just too easy to go your own way. Whatever the reason, when I meet the children sometimes there’s a sadness I see that they can’t seem to shake. It’s a shame.
I’m fortunate to represent mostly women. Women need the most help. They are more likely the keepers of the household and caregivers to the children. Mostly, they rely on the man to take care of finances, taxes and the like. Even women who are the primary earners share this trait. It means that when the man is out of the household and no longer a partner in the affairs of life, there is more than just an emotional void to fill.
The women who are most successful in dealing with divorce are those who can put their bitterness aside. It doesn’t matter whether she’s rich or poor. Revenge is never sweet; it’s expensive and unsatisfying. It’s a thirst that can’t be quenched.
I don’t know what I can prescribe to help the bitterness go away. Some women figure it out. Maybe they do it for the kids. Maybe they have a vision of a better future. They follow it like a beacon through the morass until they emerge on the other side. It doesn’t mean the hurt is gone, because, I’ll bet there are feelings of abandonment, shame and uncertainty that won’t fade easily. There’s something in their core which says through the tears “move on!” and they do.
Unfortunately, life being what it is, I mostly encounter women who want to inflict hurt on their opposite. Believe me, I understand. But, it’s another of the sadnesses. The decisions these women make are tainted by revenge. And I can tell you, it makes for some really bad decision-making.
My view is that once the divorce decree has been written and signed, it’s time to work on the implementation. I regret to say, the divorce decrees I’ve seen fail to fully take into account all the variables that can affect the couple. Because my emphasis is tax, the items that stand out tend to be tax matters. Believe me, you do not want to rely on the IRS to make a bad agreement good. It won’t happen. Justice (if there is any) will be found in the realm of the divorce decree.
Look, I’m not naïve. Even the best crafted decree is of little value if one or both fail to follow it. However, it’s at this juncture where ego gets involved. Emotions bubble to the surface. Where an attorney should be consulted, actions are taken out of anger. Suddenly, the problems become more tangled than line on a fishing reel.
I think the best course of action calls for disengagement. The sooner it can be accomplished the better. I try hard to avoid being a tool to punish the ex. I want fair treatment for my client. I believe that can only be achieved if it’s fair for all. I want my client’s attorney to work diligently and intelligently in her behalf. Ultimately, I want her to be comfortable with the outcome. It’s just that the outcome can’t involve an emotional bloodying of her ex. Not only does it make no sense, it’s unlikely to be satisfying and difficult and expensive to achieve.
Hopefully, I’m not the only advocate for peaceful disengagement among my client’s advisors. If the client surrounds herself with attorneys and others who allow the bile to rise she’s in for a tough ride. Eventually, over a long period, the rancor will subside and the combatants retreat to their corners. But, this isn’t a boxing match. The winner isn’t the one left standing. It’s not how many punches have landed. It’s how many have been avoided.