Adopt the “Long View” in Divorce

This weekend, my family and I watched my youngest sister graduate from college. It was a wonderful day and I am so proud of her accomplishment. The commencement speaker, Matthew Kelly, is a motivational speaker who discussed adopting the “long view” with the recent graduates. He discussed how as individuals and as a society, we are increasingly focused on the here and now when we should be focused on the future. He encouraged the graduates to avoid instant gratification and to consider how choices they make now will affect their lives twenty, fifty, and even seventy-five years down the road. He encouraged the graduates to save money, to take care of their bodies, and to seek their own happiness instead of the approval of others.

The “long view” is a great approach to apply towards divorce. Often in the midst of a divorce, a person can become fixated on causing pain to the other party–particularly if that person has caused significant emotional or monetary harm. There can undoubtedly be instant gratification in causing the other party to jump through hoops, to spend money, or to look badly in front of the kids. It’s easy to get caught up in arguing over inconsequential details. These actions can feel satisfying in the here and now, but can also be damaging in the long run. What effect does it have on a child to disparage the other parent? After all, the child is a product of both parents. A child’s life is turned upside down during a divorce. There is no need to add to the stress by creating additional conflict. The money that the other party was forced to spend, in the end, is only money. Is winning an argument over the dining room table going to make life better in ten years? Is a bulldog approach worth it when you can’t be in the same room to watch your child’s first dance recital? When the grandbaby is being baptized twenty-five years from now, do you want your kids to worry about which parent to invite?

As attorneys, I think we have a duty to our clients to point out the potential long term consequences of actions in the here and now. We have the duty to look at each issue through an objective lens and point out the big picture to someone who is in the throes of emotion. It is important to decide when to take a firm line, when to be aggressive, and when to compromise. Because, just as in life, the “long view” is the best view to have while making decisions in a divorce.

About Abigail Green

Abigail Green is an attorney based in Louisville, KY. She is a founding partner of Kellner Green, PLLC and practices primarily in the areas of family and divorce law.