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I Want My Divorce Lawyer TO Be A Pit Bull

This article was published in the Chicago Now section of the Chicago Tribune (circa 2011) as part of the Kulerski & Cornelison “The Way We War” series of articles.

“I want my divorce lawyer to be part pit bull, part Doberman, part shark, and the rest cobra… someone who will make my spouse suffer.”

Does this sound familiar? Of course, it does.  We have all heard of angry or hurt soon-to-be ex -spouses making statements like this.  The problem is that this is the problem.  Our predisposition to fight is one of the biggest reasons that divorce has become so lengthy and costly.

Divorce wars do not pay.  We do.  Getting the “pound of flesh” is not free; it is a luxury, like buying a new BMW when you do not want one.

We live in an argument culture that promotes distrust at every level of divorce.  Society conditions us to enter divorce with a skeptical and defensive mindset – one that encourages war instead of sensible resolution.  At the mere mention of the D Word, we get tense and distrusting and typically act in ways that are counterproductive and not in our own best interests.  We often unknowingly, and unnecessarily, help to set the stage for our own demise.

It is obvious that the public is displeased with the divorce legal system.  Most people feel it takes too long, cots too much, makes the process unnecessarily complicated and frustrating, and no longer meets the needs of the public.  Many go so far as to depict the legal system as a vampire that sucks the spirit out of everyone who enters it.

While the system admittedly is far from perfect, we have a bigger problem.  The real culprit is more fundamental…it is something that society does not prepare us for.

Society does not show us how to stay out of the legal system.  It tells us how to behave during marriage, but it does not tell us how to behave during divorce.  We take driving, karate, piano, ballet, and golf lessons, but there is no such thing as divorce lessons.

We do not receive any guidance on what we should say and do (and should not say and do) to persuade our partner to consider a compromise settlement before our dispute reaches the legal system.  We are not offered any insight into preventing our problem from becoming a disaster.  A century of divorce wars suggests that we need some help in this department.

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