Are Your Rights the Right Perspective?

One of the first things that come to mind for anyone when they realize that they are going to be divorced is “What are my rights?”.

Typically what people mean is “What laws can I use to impose my will on the outcome?”  That is a smart and reasonable question.

However, it is seldom the most important question.  Rights are essentially laws that you can seek to utilize to help achieve your desired outcome.  But, they are just one tool that can be used to achieve an outcome, and they frequently come with unintended and unwanted consequences.

For example, each parent has the right to file a custody action and ask for sole primary and physical custody of a child.  The problem with that is that in most North Carolina cases neither parent is going to be given sole legal or physical custody of a child.  And, the government has now been invited into your family and will assume control of key aspects of how you parent your child. Another common example:  You have the right to refuse to take your kids to activities that interfere with your time.  But, that may have negative consequences for your child. 

In a similar vein, you may have the right to own half of a business, but if that change of ownership leads to the destruction of the business, you may lose the benefit of the income that business provides.

The point is that the outcomes that result from exercising every right you have may not be your best outcomes.

Instead, the more productive focus is what’s in your best interest?  It may be that exercising some of your rights and choosing to not exercise others actually leads to a better outcome for you. If you are so focused on “your rights” that you lose sight of other options, then you lose out on outcomes that may serve you better. 

Knowing your legal rights is certainly a necessary part of making an educated decision in divorce.  But, making those rights the sole focus of your efforts is not necessarily going to produce your best outcome. 

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