If there were only peace, love, and harmony in every marriage, there would be no such thing as divorce. Alas, couples may go their separate ways for wildly different reasons. No other category of individuals is as aware of this fact as family law attorneys.
It’s not that there’s a great lack of love between many couples; divorce rates in the United States have, in fact, been declining. Some partners simply grow apart despite still loving each other, while some just grow to love their patio furniture more than their spouse.
Some couples easily go from being blissfully wed to consulting their respective divorce lawyers about massage chair ownership, pooch visitation schedules, and their rights to a peanut butter jar. As family law attorneys, it’s our job to sort these things out…to a certain extent.
Custody of the massage chair
Children are precious, but for some couples, not nearly as precious as a massage chair. A massage chair seems like a silly thing to fight over while splitting assets until you realize that the parent with the massage chair becomes the favorite parent. And arguably, getting the vibrating chair will likely score you a “win” in a child custody battle.
In Washington state, a judge gives weight to the preference of a child aged 12 and over. And if a child prefers the parent who gets the massage chair, then tough luck for the one who doesn’t. However, currying favor with the children in a similar dispute is generally frowned upon. In any case, here’s an unlawyerly advice: consider getting an Xbox.
The couple who cares more about how much time they spend with the dog than with their kid
The time it takes to split marital assets and/or decide on child custody may take hours in any given mediation. However, for one couple, it only took an hour and a half. They spent more time arguing how to split the time with their dog. According to the attorney who mediated the case, the dog visitation terms had a strict schedule factoring holidays and strict pickup/drop-off times, while the custody terms of their six-month-old son amounted to “whatever suits you.”
Note that pets are considered assets that can’t be physically split. So deciding who gets primary custody of the dog may not exactly count as frivolous for most couples. Some couples may even choose to stay married because they don’t know how to come up with a dog co-parenting plan. All we’re saying is that there are other more trivial reasons to pay hundreds of dollars of billable hours than carefully hashing out the details of your doggie’s custody.
Related reading: Divorce and pet custody: Fighting over cats and dogs
Fired up to get an ex-spouse fired
Some vindictive ex-spouses will resort to any means to win primary child custody, including trying to get their ex fired from their job. This, however, accomplishes nothing and is rather self-sabotaging. A co-parent should avoid any attempts to diminish the other co-parent’s ability to pay child support, but this simple logic eludes some who do exactly that.
One woman repeatedly called her ex-husband’s employer to inform them that her ex is a thief and dabbles in various white-collar crimes. Fortunately, the employer saw through her attempts and ignored her.
The ex-husband of another vindictive woman wasn’t so lucky. His ex-wife tried to get him fired from his job by telling his bosses that he takes silly photos while on the job. This was part of his ex’s master plan to get full supervised visitation of their daughter. She succeeded in getting him fired, but it backfired so immensely. The judge denied her request for full custody and told her that she was an unfit parent for sabotaging their child’s main source of support.
The peanut butter dispute
And finally, a couple spent over $1,000 in attorney consultation fees deciding on the fate of groceries worth around $40. In this economy, it pays to take into account all of your marital assets when dividing properties so that they’re equitably distributed.
But one has to draw the line between deciding who will take the refrigerator and who will take the leftovers inside the refrigerator that includes things like an already opened jar of peanut butter.
In this case, a Washington state court may award each party his or her own peanut butter jar (supposing there are more than one) or divide the net value of the jar of peanut butter 50/50. Perhaps one of the parties will settle and agree to take the leftover salami. Perhaps we’ll never know because the whole thing is wacko.
Call Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams for lawyer-assisted agreement when dividing property, settling child custody, and discussing child support in the Evergreen State.