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Divorce and Common Sense - Avoid Worsening a Bad Situation

A divorce can be a traumatic, emotionally draining event. Rather than seeing it as a new beginning, some litigants abandon common sense and view the process as a vehicle with which to settle scores, make points, rehash old arguments and pick at wounds long thought healed. The results of this sort of "scorched earth" strategy are generally not as had been originally intended - children and extended families are alienated and the parties are in a considerably diminished financial condition, unable to move forward to the next stage in their lives in a hopeful fashion.

Case in point - a pair of law professors in Ohio chose the "scorched earth" method of litigation, all to their misery. Their 10 year marriage has resulted in 17 years of litigation, and the Ohio Court of Appeals was obliged to specifically remark on the behavior of the litigants as "appalling" while excoriating them for the effect of the litigation on their children.

After nearly 25 years of practice of family law here in Louisville, I've seen a lot of needlessly acrimonious behavior, and always recommend against it. Kentucky judges have a lot of discretion in family law cases, and litigants who engage in "scorched earth" litigation usual find that their results are less optimal when they engage in spiteful, manipulative behavior.

There are tools that can help a litigant avoid spiraling into destructive behavior.

1. See a counselor about dealing with the stress of the situation, and for coping skills.

2. Before engaging in a course of conduct which may aggravate your soon to be ex-spouse in your divorce, ask yourself if the conduct legitimately helps you, and consult with your lawyer first.

3. Anticipate flashpoints about your own behavior, and consider whether an action can be twisted or misconstrued and used against you.

4. When given advice, take it and base your actions on it.