The Ripple Effects of a Bad Divorce

May 18, 2011

Unlike almost all other kinds of cases, family law resolutions typically cannot involve a “clean break” between the spouses.

Children, continuing financial payments and other continuing connections prevent most spouses from totally eliminating the other from their life. 

In contrast, two companies in a dispute can simply choose to never do business together again; an injured person and the person that hurt them can simply avoid each other; a lender and a debtor can choose not to borrow or lend from each other in the future.

Families don’t have that choice. 

Therefore, how a family law case is handled makes a huge difference for family law clients.  If two companies that never have to do business with each other again hate each other, they can cut ties.

But, if two parents that are going to be tied by children and financial commitments for years to come hate each other, well, then you have a recipe for long term disaster.

For example, in an adversarial and positional divorce, the following common situations frequently lead to numerous trips to court, unnecessary arguments and ballooning legal fees:

  * Future parenting decisions about schools, medical treatment, religion, etc.…(not to mention the smaller day to day decisions that can lead to problems (TV hours, sports, sleep-overs, discipline, etc.…));

* Decisions about selling a house:  Selling price, repairs to be done, repair concessions, etc.…

* Increases or decreases in financial support payments due to income fluctuations;

* Temporary adjustments to financial support payments due to income fluctuation, increased expenses or major life events;

* Adjustments to co-parenting schedules due to work schedules, new families, new spouses, children’s changing needs, etc.…

* Decisions about who will attend future family events with children and grandchildren.


By contrast, in divorces that are handled respectfully, productively, and in an interest-based model, these problems are frequently resolved by simple phone calls or emails.   This is only possible because the spouses saved enough of their dignity and their relationship to communicate with each other after their divorce. 

The point is this:  Allowing your divorce to take on an adversarial, positional, contentious tone will not solve your problems or effectively resolve the legal issues of your divorce. Rather, it will set you and your family up for future court battles, legal fees and destruction.  These ripple effects can haunt families for years and even decades after the actual divorce.

Choosing processes like Collaborative Divorce and mediation offer the chance to avoid these negative ripple effects in the future. 


Randolph (Tré) Morgan III is an experienced family law attorney accepting cases in Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Clayton, Smithfield, Wake Forest, RTP, Durham, Chapel Hill, Holly Springs and surrounding areas.  He focuses his practice in divorce, child custody, alimony, child support, equitable distribution, property division, paternity, guardianship and other family related matters.  

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