In a recent email a reader was looking for advice and guidance on what steps to take in her verbally abusive marriage.
She was looking for support and someone to tell her that the situation would change. "Do you think that therapy would help him, maybe he is bi polar, or does it just seem that I'm making excuses again," she asked.
Abuse is a deal breaker for me. Hit me or continually berate me and I'm not going to hang around. There are those who hang on to a marriage though and make excuses for bad behavior. What I consider a deal breaker, someone else may consider a problem that needs to be worked through.
How about you? What is your deal breaker? What offense or offenses would mean the end of your marriage?
The term, "Best Interest of the Child" refers to the care courts take on when attempting to decide what type of services or orders will best serve a child's needs AND who will be best suited to care for the child after divorce.
There are a number of things taken into consideration by the court when deciding the "best interest" of a child. While each state is different most will consider the following factors.
- The emotional ties and relationships between the child and his or her parents, siblings, family and household members, or other caregivers.
- The capacity of the parents to provide a safe home and adequate food, clothing, and medical care.
- The mental and physical health needs of the child.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The presence of domestic violence in the home.
What happens though, when evidence proves that the court failed to meet the besting interest of the child?
According to Linda Gottlieb, the "best interest of the child standard is "a product of the adversarial system because it is predicated upon the belief that a selection must be made between the two parents as to who would be the better residential parent with sole custody, being the primary caretaker and decision maker for the child, while the other parent is accorded only limited visitation rights."
Is it really in the best interest of either the child or parents to designate one parent better equipped or qualified to care for and provide for a child's needs?
If the courts are truly taking into consideration the mental and physical health of each parent, the emotional ties to family and the capacity to provide in most cases, wouldn't that mean that when both parents meet those standards that both parents should have equal or shared parenting time?
You can protect yourself legally by properly responding to an angry ex during divorce. Is your ex using the court system to regain a sense of power over you? Or maybe the fear of lost assets is driving your ex to prolong divorce litigation. Whatever the reason how you respond to his/her anger can play a role in how out of control the divorce process becomes.
Awareness is the key to successfully negotiating a divorce settlement agreement with an angry ex. It has been my experience that the angry ex usually comes out on top during divorce negotiations or divorce court. Like a dog with a bone, they don't let go and will eventually wear you down if given the opportunity.
I don't encourage anger but I do encourage anyone dealing with an angry ex to pay close attention to how their ex is choosing to "defend" themselves during the legal process of divorce. It helps if you understand that anger is a secondary emotion that covers feelings of abandonment, fear, loss or powerlessness.
Divorce and marital separation are considered, respectively, to be the second and third major life stressors, following only the death of a spouse, on the list of 43 stressful life events included on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (Holmes & Rahe, 1967).
The stress and anger your ex is feeling will directly impact any settlement negotiations or legal proceedings. Will you know what to expect and how to respond?
Below are some highlights from their suit and my responses to each.
"Connecticut's alimony scheme is unconstitutionally vague, giving no notice to citizens contemplating marriage or divorce what fate may befall them in a divorce proceeding. The Legislature, by failing among other things even to identify the purpose or aim or alimony, has delegated basic policy decisions to the judiciary without any meaningful guidance."
If you marry without first educating yourself what might "befall" you in case of a divorce, you should not be getting married. Seriously, alimony is old news and I for one will never be convinced that these gentlemen married with no awareness of how they would be held responsible should they decide to leave the marriage.
They claim Connecticut has no statute to guide judges in ordering spousal support, so the courts are not required to "calculate alimony with mathematical prevision."
It does though; Connecticut law specifically says that the "cause" of the divorce will be taken into consideration when awarding alimony. If they are upset with the court for "punishing" a spouse it feels is at fault they should not have chosen behaviors that would cause the court to view them as, "at fault." That is a better course to take than trying to change state law just because they don't want to pay for bad behavior that led to a divorce.
And, in Connecticut alimony is historically awarded in less than 20% of divorces. So, these gentlemen aren't speaking for the majority. Just the few who have made choices that didn't reflect positively on them in Family Court.
"It is impossible for any married person in Connecticut to know, even within a reasonable range, what financial penalties will be imposed upon him in a divorce judgment."
This isn't necessarily true. If you are wealthy and leave your spouse for a younger model you are going to pay quite a bit of alimony. If you are not wealthy and leave your spouse for a younger model you will pay a little bit of alimony. I will say this, if a spouse has a chart outlining exactly what they would pay in alimony should they leave their wife/husband they could make a more informed decisions. Like, is the other woman/other man worth it or not?
"In no area of law other than family relations does Connecticut give a civil litigant the ability to use penal remedies to enforce a money judgment."
If the argument is that a civil court should not have the authority to use penal remedies to enforce a money judgment I'm all for moving it to a criminal court. After all, in my opinion it is criminal to refuse to follow a legal order regardless of whether it is a civil or criminal order. I've known quite a few men and women who would have responded more positively to a Family Court order if they had known they would end up in criminal court for not following it.
"Alimony schemes like Connecticut's have had the opposite effect of discouraging citizens from marrying at all, whether or not they are in a committed relationship and whether or not they are raising children. The rate of births to women who are not married has increased dramatically, while the percentage of the population that is presently married or has ever been married has decreased significantly."
Is Connecticut supposed to care whether someone chooses to marry or not? How does using this argument relate or uphold to their desire to not pay spousal support or the unconstitutional injustice of it?
I'm not sure how the 14th amendment plays a role in whether alimony is a violation of their constitutional rights. And if it does wouldn't a stay-at-home wife of 25 or 30 years who is financially dependent on her husband be able to use the same argument? Should she be deprived of "life, liberty, or property without due process of law" just because her husband decides she no longer fits into his agenda? These gentlemen are forgetting an important aspect of the 14th amendment, their ex-wives have a right to equal protection of the law also.
If you haven't you should read this divorce court order from Circuit Judge Edward Garrison of Boca Raton, Florida. And if you are a husband or wife trying to stop your divorce, please don't get any funny ideas. Thievery is not the way to go.
The best line in the order, "The wife simply became dissatisfied with her "cut" from the illicit conspiracy."
I agree with the Judge, it is an amazing display of chutzpah!
The grieving process one goes through during and after a divorce is very much like grieving the death of a loved one. Working through your grief can be a painful process, but it is necessary to ensure your future emotional and physical well-being.
According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, the emotional stages of grief are "responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives."
In today's society the loss of a marriage seems to be "typical." Just because divorce is so common place doesn't mean you won't experience feelings of grief and loss. How you grieve, that loss will greatly determine how productive the rest of your life is.
We've all heard stories of couples who were able to rebuild their marriage after infidelity. Stories of how much better the marriage became after the infidelity. Or, maybe you've met someone who divorced due to infidelity and is now happy, secure and moving forward without anger and resentment.
The same is possible for anyone who has lived with the pain of infidelity. It takes actively practicing behaviors and thoughts that promote resilience.
If you are able to adjust quickly and snap back after disappointments in life you will be more likely to heal from a spouse's infidelity and restore your marriage. The more emotionally resilient you are the more able you are to "roll with the punches" life throws at you. And infidelity is a hell of a punch! It is these folks who make a habit out of "making lemonade out of lemons."
What are the personality traits of those who are able to recover from infidelity?
1. You are solution focused. You focus on finding solutions to problems instead of becoming obsessed with the problem.
2. You are optimistic and confident. You don't sit around and wait for others to solve your problems, you take the initiative.
3. You set boundaries and enforce them. You know the rewards of distancing yourself from hurtful people, environments and situations.
4. You have a strong sense of autonomy. Who you are and your value as a person is not defined by the behaviors of others.
5. You don't view yourself as a victim. You are able to acknowledge your own contribution to disappointing situations, take responsibility and not blame, blame, blame.
6. You are empathetic. You are willing to view a situation from the perspective of others. Doing so helps you understand not only your feelings but the feelings of the person who hurts you.
7. You don't resist change. You are able to take what life gives you and make the best of it instead of expecting life suit your needs. You've learned to let go of a need to control every situation.
I have an issue with those who leave a low conflict marriage for all the wrong reasons. If you've "grown apart" isn't it your responsibility to work at creating a bond? If you are "bored" well, join the club because marriage isn't and wasn't meant to be one life-long party.
"One minute, you love the stability and contentment. The next minute, you think it's not the right marriage, and there are flaws in the marriage that are serious, even though there are also great things about the marriage," says historian Pamela Haag, author of "Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules." In other words, "one minute you can't imagine staying, the next you can't imagine leaving," Haag says. "It's these kinds of marriages that are 'low conflict' but not all that satisfying that contribute the lion's share to divorce court each year."
I've always argued that most marital problems are due to high expectations, Haag believes, "our expectations for marriage may be too low--such that single people feel, perhaps rightly, that there isn't much that marriage would add to their lives."
The problem I have with Haag is her belief that there is something wrong with feeling "semi-happy" in a marriage. Haag's marriage is representative of most marriages, one day you are in, one day you are out. Marriage is like anything else in life, we can feel both good and bad about a situation according to our mood, our partner and any other number of things.
Isn't it time for us to grow up and realize that life nor marriage promises us happiness? All marriages are semi-happy. There are ups and downs, times of great passion and times of boredom. All couples have problems some less, some more that doesn't mean they are semi happy and should be running to a divorce attorney. It just means they are married and it pays to keep your expectations reasonable...not high or low but, reasonable.
I worked with a client last year who had been separated from his wife for six months. His children had no idea Dad was no longer living at home. Hard to believe but true! My client and his wife were so terrified of damaging their children by telling them they were separated that they were damaging the children even worse by keeping the secret.
Dad would come over in the morning before the children woke; he would then return after dinner and stay until the children were in bed. On weekends he and his wife ran around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to keep up pretenses.
His four year old son was acting out at school. His two year old daughter had started having nightmares. Both children knew something was wrong and the two people they depended on to be honest with them insisted on keeping secrets that only exacerbated everyone's level of confusion instead of encourage open communication.
If you have children and are about to separate or divorce, please don't do as my client and his wife. For the love of your children, don't!
Children need age appropriate honesty when it comes to the details of their parent's divorce. I agree with the opinion of Dr. Frank Pittman that keeping secrets and lying to children causes them to become insecure and dependent. It also breaks their trust and if there is one thing a child needs during the divorce of parents, it is two parents they can trust.
We work from the day our children are born building a trusting relationship with them. It is important for them to trust us so they can feel secure, not only in their relationship with us but in the world as they grow toward independence. You may think you are protecting your child when you keep secrets but what you are actually doing is damaging a relationship that is based on trust.
If there has been an affair, be honest and give age appropriate details when, or if your child becomes inquisitive? When telling your children about your divorce you are having a conversation that will set the standard for your future relationship with them. If you want a relationship that continues to be based in trust then it is imperative that you are open and age appropriately honest about the "who, what, when and where" of your divorce.
Knowledge and awareness is the key to successfully negotiating a divorce settlement agreement with an angry ex. It has been my experience that the angry ex usually comes out on top during divorce negotiations or divorce court. Why?
Because, they are more likely to hire a high-priced, adversarial attorney and use all that resource to punish the one who hurt them via the Family Court System.
I don't encourage anger but I do encourage anyone dealing with an angry ex to pay close attention to how their ex is choosing to "defend" themselves during the process of divorce. It helps if you understand that anger is a secondary emotion that covers feelings of abandonment, fear, loss, shame or guilt to name a few.
It natural for some who feel negative emotions to do all they can legally to regain a sense of power. Being aware of what drives their bad behavior you can protect yourself legally by properly responding to an angry ex's behavior.
Divorce and marital separation are considered, respectively, to be the second and third major life stressors, following only the death of a spouse, on the list of 43 stressful life events included on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale.