I thought for sure when I made the decision several years ago to never, ever again take another divorce case no matter how desperately my law practice needed the business that I was free of the emotional stress of The Bad Divorce. After all, I had by that time been through not one but two failed marriages, the aftermath of which, in both cases, fell squarely into the category of The Good Divorce. No court battles, no arguments over time with the kids, no disputes over money, open lines of communication, joint attendances at school events and major extracurricular activities, as well as extended families that all continued to get along. As such, the only involvement I had in The Bad Divorce was purely professional. But that was enough to make me crazy (literally). I was giddy at the prospect of forever leaving behind The Bad Divorce and turning my professional attention to an area of litigation where I could use my skills to do what I did best without wanting to seriously harm my opposing counsel, my own clients, or myself. The song says rock and roll is a vicious game, but it can’t possibly be as vicious as family law. I thought with The Good Divorce x2 in my personal life and no more of The Bad Divorce in my professional life that I had set sail to a fantasy land where The Bad Divorce didn’t exist.
So here I am three years later, still part of The Good Divorce, and not involved with family law cases in my practice. Yet, I am still regularly dealing with The Bad Divorce. While I am fortunate to have a very wide and varied circle of friends, unfortunately, it seems at any given time several of them are going through The Bad Divorce. Either because of my 17 years as a family lawyer, or because of all my years as a good friend who offers sound advice, or possibly both, I am typically one of the ‘ears” or “shoulders” that my friends lean upon when going through The Bad Divorce. I don’t begrudge this and consider it my duty as a friend to help them through a tough time even if it’s just by listening. But it does make me think about the question I get quite often, which is: “How do you guys do it?”, referring to my exes and I and The Good Divorces to which we are parties. My friends inevitably end the conversation by imploring me to write a book about The Good Divorce.
I’ve thought about it alot. The Good Divorce. A very marketable title. I could write about the emotional and financial cost of going to court; the ability to recognize which issues are important and which are not; paying your support on time; understanding that the money you pay benefits your kids and is not a penalty; recognizing that the other person is the parent of your child and no matter how much you may dislike/disagree with/hate that person, your children should not be deprived of regular contact with one of their parents. I could write about the values you pass onto your kids when they see you get along and work out your differences around the dining room table versus the emotional scars you inflict upon them by battling to be the champion in the court room. I could devote an entire chapter to how you shouldn’t badmouth the other parent or undermine their authority when they make a decision that is for your child’s own good. I could write all of this and so much more. But truth be told, that book would be a long, boring read, and sadly, the very people who need it most wouldn’t buy it.
I have decided instead to write my book here in my blog in the hopes that it attracts enough attention to get the secret out about how not to have The Bad Divorce. Feel free to share, re-post, retweet, copy, or forward this article. I am deliberately waiving any copyright claim over it as the message is too important.
The Good Divorce by Darryl Singer
In dealing with your ex, always put the interests of your kids first.
Don’t be an asshole.