Vengeance: Does It Have a Place In the Law

By Staff Writer

Divorce has been equated with death in the toll it takes on the emotions of the parties involved. Especially in cases where one party was not prepared for the divorce and breakdown of the relationship, parties going through the divorce process are routinely overwhelmed by a variety of emotions such as hurt, anger and betrayal. If you are experiencing these or similar emotions, you may have the all too human desire to "get back at" or "hurt" your ex as much as you have been emotionally wounded.

The desire to get even is an all too common reaction in divorce cases. Unfortunately, divorce attorneys sometimes do not inform their clients that allowing such emotions to guide your conduct and decisions in divorce litigation will likely cost you significantly. Parties who have paid their attorneys to be a "pit bull" and hurt the other party as much as possible are rarely satisfied with the outcome of the case and end up spending far more in legal fees. An attorney who empathizes with you, but tries to keep you emotions in check and you focused on the legal issues and what you really need, rather than your desire for vengeance, is actually doing you a service. He or she is likely giving you a reasonable assessment of the case from a legal perspective. You should be incredibly wary of the attorney who does not try to focus you on the legal issues and allows you to be guided, unchecked, by anger and vengeance. Attorneys are usually paid by the hour. While it may benefit the attorney financially to allow the case to be drawn out with frequent motions and other costly tactics, a responsible attorney will look out for your best interests and try to resolve the case with a minimum of cost necessary to obtain the outcome to which you are legally entitled.

Trying to remain logically focused on the legal issues and potential outcome based on the facts of your case, rather than on your desire to hurt your ex, is easier said than done. You will want to discuss your feelings with your attorney. While it is natural and necessary to engage in such conversations with your attorney, you should keep in mind your attorney’s role. An attorney is a legal advocate, not a therapist. If you merely want someone to listen to you, your money would be better spent hiring a mental health professional to help you deal with your emotions and allow your attorney to focus on the legal facts and issues.

Courts are not avenues of inflicting emotional harm on your ex. It is the Court’s job to determine the rights and responsibilities of the parties based on the facts of the case and law as it pertains to those facts. Parties who are guided solely by emotion are rarely satisfied with the outcome of litigation for the simple reason that parties do not usually get 100% of what they want from the Court. If, for example, your ex took off with your children and the Court determines that he or she is entitled to custody, you will likely have to pay child support. This may not seem fair to you based on the facts. However, what is fair and what is provided for in the law are often two very separate things.