Our divorce laws are quite complicated and generally require the guidance of an experienced attorney to navigate successfully. However, no matter how good your lawyer is, he or she will have great difficulty overcoming your or your spouse’s lack of common sense. Common sense should be the guiding light for divorcing couples. Without it the process is likely to be more cumbersome, more stressful, more time consuming, and more expensive.
For example, if a couple has reported combined gross income of $100,000 per year on joint income tax returns, it makes no sense to ask for $10,000 per month in alimony. Although that sounds pretty silly, you’d be surprised by how many people make such demands and stick with them no matter what their attorneys say.
Your spouse has a perspective. You will undoubtedly disagree with some…or most… or even all of it, but your spouse does have a perspective. It defies common sense to ignore it. Whether you negotiate a settlement or litigate at trial, your spouse’s perspective will come into play. It will stand between you and
your divorce, so common sense requires you to consider it and address it.
Agreements are preferable to trials in almost all cases. When you go to trial, both sides present their cases and then relinquish control over the outcome to a stranger in a black robe. By negotiating a settlement both parties retain a greater measure of control over the outcome. Of course, this requires compromise, so you probably won’t get everything you want. You have to give to get. After a lengthy trial (and I’ve tried many over the years) it is the rare case in which one spouse gets everything he/she wants. Why not make an attempt to bring about a satisfactory result through negotiation? Isn’t that just common sense?
Using common sense when it comes to children makes a great deal of sense, too. Children should be a divorcing couple’s priority. Their needs should be placed above the needs of both spouses. After all, they didn’t ask to be born and they certainly had no say in their parents’ marital strife. Yet many “adults” fail to recognize this and place their needs above those of the children. Some even weaponize the children by using them as pawns. Often this causes long term damage. It simply makes no sense.
Many years ago, when I was a young lawyer, I represented a woman who was very angry with her husband. We spent the entire day at her husband’s lawyer’s office and by 5:30 we had settled all but one issue. They had two crockpots and she wanted them both! For nearly an hour the husband tried, without success, to convince her of the fairness in each of them getting one. Finally, with much prodding from his lawyer and after incurring more legal fees than a case of crockpots would cost, he used common sense and agreed that she would get both $20.00 items.
People sometimes say you either have common sense or you don’t. I don’t buy that. I think you can develop common sense, particularly when a great need for it arises. There is no context in which the need for common sense is greater than divorce. Use it. It will serve you and your children well.