A Common Divorce Mistake

I was watching War of the Roses this past weekend.  There are some great lines in the movie and as a divorce lawyer with a fair share of high conflict cases, I can relate.  One that popped out was when Danny DeVito’s character tells Michael Douglas, “Oliver, there is no winning in divorce…only degrees of losing!” warning him in response to his escalating contest with Kathleen Turner.  Michael Douglas has lost all reason and is caught up in an emotionally charged game of one upsmanship as if keeping score means something.

When a client tells me that it’s “the principle and I don’t care how much it costs”, I do a Danny DeVito with them.  Viewing divorce as a contest with winners and losers ends badly.  A better approach is to make a “risk analysis” perspective.  How much are you willing to risk to get even?  What costs are associated in doing it that way versus making a business-like decision? Choosing a scorched earth approach incurs huge attorney’s fees, court costs, possibly sanctions not to mention the emotional chaos.  The more issues you can resolve outside of court the better the outcome.   Remember, the Roses ended up swinging from the chandlier and not from partying.

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