I’m contributing pieces on Family Today and Medium. Follow me below. #WomanResurrected On Medium @ColleenOrme Follow me on Instagram @colleenorme Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist #WomanResurrected E-mail: Colleen.Sheehy.Orme@gmail.com
I recently read a social media post where various members of the divorce industry offered their thoughts. The topic? Essentially, the need for a better more collaborative divorce system.
Of course, in a perfect world, we would love to see mature, accountable, respectful adults painlessly divide their union.
It’s not that simple.
The problems with divorce and the legal system are complex. They are compounded by the heated emotions of a bad breakup. The problems that started long before the divorce was initiated and which have festered for far too long. Add one or two difficult personalities to the mix and sadly, a divorce can be both exhausting and lengthy.
Few people enter into divorce understanding the true nature and consequences of initiating such action.
They believe the process will be fair, their spouse will be fair, the legal system will be fair. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
Divorce is an antiquated system, where individuals get away with not only bad but illegal behavior and families suffer.
The question begs, how is this possible?
Where is the accountability?
There is no accountability. Typically the behaviors which existed in the relationship continue throughout the divorce process. The spouse who behaved well continues to do so and the spouse who behaved badly continues to do so. Sadly, there is little accountability for the latter. Because the system works for them.
7 reasons divorce can be brutal and unfair
The Legal System
Divorce court is unlike the rest of the legal system.
People are allowed to get away with illegal activity.
Behavior which in any other court would be punishable to the fullest extent of the law. As they say, ‘all is fair in love and war.’
A husband or wife can forge names, steal money or belongings, embezzle business assets, take out credit cards in their spouse’s name, provide false income and tax information, and more.
In any other court of law, this would be unacceptable. Identity theft is a crime, stealing money from an individual or business is a crime.
But in divorce court, the mentality is ‘this happens all the time.’
The spouse who tells the truth continues to do so. The spouse who lies and cheats is proficient in these skills. A judge typically has very little time to distinguish who is actually telling the truth. Whether it be custody or financial issues.
The divorce legal system does not deal with mental health issues.
Many of the most brutal and elongated divorces involve individuals with extreme personalities, i.e., mental health or personality disorders.
Individuals who are experts in manipulation and control. It has worked well for them before the divorce and it works especially well in a process that is not proficient in identifying them.
There are generally no mental health experts nor is there an established set of procedures to intervene and hold these individuals accountable and minimize their antics or duration of the divorce. But rather they are just dragged back into court (that is when the other spouse can afford it) and their hand is slapped.
They leave court only to misbehave again.
These can be extremely dangerous and damaging individuals. They are capable of using, confusing, and abusing their own children to win. They can also be financially, physically, or emotionally abusive.
Often there is a spouse who has unwittingly or intentionally given up financial control.
It could be staying home to raise children or giving one partner total control of the finances.
Additionally, one partner could attempt non-monetary ways to render their spouse powerless. They could leverage demands by manipulating children or other means of control.
Regardless of the reason, if one of the individuals becomes powerless, divorce can become a complicated and long process.
The person with the deeper pockets often comes out on top.
Divorce is a major class system.
The bigger earner has the money to keep dragging their spouse back to court. Conversely, they understand their spouse does not have the money to fight unwanted custody or financial outcomes.
An imbalance of assets leads to an unfair and typically brutal outcome.
In essence, money means they win.
The exception to this would be an individual who outearns a partner who has emotional issues, addiction issues, personality disorders, etc. People who regardless of having a larger income, will themselves be continually dragged back into court by a troubled ex-spouse.
Retribution and Revenge
Marriages typically suffer for a very long time before one spouse chooses to leave.
Years of raw emotions have accrued below the surface.
There is pain, resentment, anger, and bitterness which unfortunately are allowed to take center stage in legal battles.
The spouse who has endured cheating, addiction issues, emotional abuse, control, etc. may want payback. Conversely, the spouse who is controlling or who has cheated or behaved badly may want to maintain control. And continue to behave badly throughout the divorce process.
Or the spouse who has endured bad behavior just wants out while the oppressor wants revenge for them leaving.
Many people enter the divorce process absent of the type of counseling it takes to resolve emotions and behave maturely.
Sadly, children and money are often used as tools of retribution and revenge.
Why? Because this and dragging a divorce out are the only ways disturbing personalities can exact their punishment.
The Laws are Subjective
The laws are in place but they are somewhat subjective.
And therefore, open for interpretation.
A couple could find themselves before a judge who is happily married, suffered three bad divorces, been raised by a single mother, or one who believes stay at home mothers lazily enjoy bonbons.
In other words, there is a degree of bias.
Unless the judge is supremely (a bit of a pun) able to cast aside any of their own life experiences.
For instance, a judge who is a working mother with a big career may not understand nor agree with rehabilitative alimony. Because she has never experienced the vulnerability which accompanies abandoning a career for many years. A judge who has experienced a bad divorce and feels they are paying too much may see other spouses as having the same ill intentions.
The laws are in place but the final results can be influenced.
The Legal System is Antiquated
No child should experience a two, three, four, or five-year divorce.
Much of the divorce system does not work and needs to be overhauled.
The fact that divorces can run into six figures illustrates how one profession prospers while the emotional well-being of a family suffers.
Divorce actually encourages some types of continued financial abuse especially involving kids.
For instance, children are considered adults at eighteen. Often parents will use college choices and expenses as a means of continuing divorce abuse. Putting children unfairly in the middle of things. Additionally, spouses who withhold grocery money typically get away with it. Because of the laws put in place to protect parents who are truly experiencing financial crises.
There are many inequities that need to be addressed.
Things put in place to discourage rather than encourage bad behavior.
In the best circumstances, responsible and mature adults do what is right for their families.
Unfortunately, in many cases, this does not happen.
Partially because of a lack of accountability which encourages inequities.
And an ineffective and antiquated system exaggerated by adults behaving badly.
I’m contributing pieces on Family Today and Medium. Follow me below. #WomanResurrected