Don’t Love Anything That Can’t Love You Back

Divorce is emotionally and financially complicated, but when the emotions and finances start influencing each other, this is a recipe for emotional and financial disaster.

I have always believed that every issue in divorce, with the exception of anything involving children and pets, should be approached as a business decision.  It should be possible to quantify any finance-related issue in divorce and then balance it against the cost of pursuing that issue in litigation. In other words, if it would cost you $10,000 to recover a $5,000 asset, this is not a good investment and instead of pursuing it you should reach a compromise.  I know this is not always possible, but if both divorcing parties and their lawyers engage in this same kind of economic analysis, everyone should agree a compromise is the most desirable outcome.

Such business decisions can apply to anything that can’t love you back; and, the only “things” I am aware of that can love you back are children and pets. The only economic analysis relating to children and pets is determining what you can financially afford for their best interest and deciding how to achieve it based upon that budget.

This sounds simple and sensible, I trust.  However, people fight day in, and day out, over things that cannot love them back.  Here is a list of the more unusual things divorcing couples have actually insisted on arguing over in the past combined 21 years of my associate’s and my practices, most of which resulted in paying attorney’s fees that exceeded the cost of the item:

  • A purple velvet couch (mind you – not an antique – just a purple velvet couch)
  • Lamps with green velvet lampshades (unbelievably, it was not the same case as the purple couch and again, not antiques)
  • A bed where a party’s former spouse died
  • The fur coat of a deceased mother-in-law
  • Spices (regular old kitchen spices)
  • Orchid plants
  • Designer purses
  • Kitchen appliances (including built-ins)
  • Old home gym equipment
  • The funds used for a breast augmentation made just prior to separation
  • Dog toys (used, gross old balls, etc., for dogs that neither person had any longer)
  • The top to an old Chevy Blazer
  • One singular photo of a 28-year old adult child when he was three years of age (technology allows for duplication!)
  • The services of nanny (although the nanny is not property, her services were treated like it)

Principle and sentimental value attached to “things” can be expensive, as clearly none of these items loves you back and none of them has an intrinsic value worth the hemorrhaging of attorney’s fees, yet it happens all the time.