Playing divorce hard ball when it’s unnecessary and wrong

In a recent media article, a family law commentator refers to the “mama bear” that she says is in most women who are seeking to protect their legal interests and the best interests of their children during the divorce process and following dissolution.

There can, as she notes, be a legitimate interest in assuming a hard-line and uncompromising divorce stance, and that interest looms largest when a spouse or soon-to-be ex married partner is engaging in conduct that truly requires some reciprocal level of aggression to protect bona-fide interests.

Those interests can, of course, be highly varied in any given divorce. Perhaps a partner has engaged in acts of domestic violence. Maybe he is hiding assets to take unfair advantage in a property division determination. Perhaps child custody is turning out to be particularly troublesome.

In such cases, the emerging mama bear is manifestly understandable. In some cases, though, says author Monique Honaman, the converse is true: Playing hard ball simply for the sake of getting back at a spouse or former partner harms rather protects the interests of everyone involved — especially the children — and undermines legitimate fathers’ rights in the process.

Dragging a husband or soon-to-be ex through legal mud out of vindictiveness is always wrong, says Honaman, and especially hurts the necessary bonding between caring fathers and their children.

If both parents are essentially “good,” says Honaman, then the children have a strong need for regular involvement with both of them, marked with civility in parental exchanges.

“To try and negate this from happening,” she says, “is selfish and harmful.”

And, it goes without saying, that truism cuts both ways, applying equally to would-be vindictive spouses of both sexes.

Source: Huffington Post, “Kids need dads!” Monique Honaman, March 6, 2013

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