"Most Excellent" Divorce Lessons To Live By

People who know me know that I love a good movie quote, especially if it comes from an 80s movie. Talk to me about John Hughes movies or Coming to America and you have my respect. Start deep diving into Beverly Hills Cop and Back to School, however, and I know we were meant to be. It is times like these when we learn to live again….and need those movie classics to keep us remembering a simpler time when, well, we could all go to a movie theatre without having to think about an ongoing pandemic.

Of course, those who also know me know that any 80s movie quote can be applied to the world of divorce and teach a life lesson on how to also get through a different type of difficult time. With that said, below are a few memorable quotes to consider.

“Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them.” While maybe not the most famous line from Wall Street (“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good” could also apply here), Bud Fox knew the weight of the moment as he was about to enter Gordon Gekko’s office for the first time. In your divorce or post-divorce matter, you will be making certain decisions that could have an impact on your life for years, if not decades to come. Custody and parenting time arrangements. Alimony, child support and equitable distribution. Both the short and long-term impact of how you proceed and the outcome you choose (or is chosen for you by a family court judge if you do not settle your matter) make it critical that you understand the law as it applies to the facts of your case and what you are agreeing to. Knowing the full extent of the marital estate. Knowing the impact of the custody and parenting time arrangement you are agreeing to. Knowing what your spouse makes, especially if he/she owns a business and is not paid as a W-2 wage earner. Oftentimes custody and financial experts are necessary to help you get to that level of comfort you need to make those decisions. Like Bud learning that Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel, having as many resources at your disposal as possible to provide you with clarity in your decision-making is vital to getting your desired result.

“You can be my wingman anytime.” Iceman delivering this line to Maverick at the end of Top Gun is an important reminder that: 1) Tom Cruise was not always crazy; and 2) your divorce attorney is someone that you are going to be working with through what may be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. As a result, be sure that you are comfortable with the attorney you have chosen, how that person will advocate for your best interests and those of your children and is the person that you can confide in some of the most personal information that you may have never previously discussed with anyone in your life. Oftentimes, I find that my clients are referred to me and retain my services because of who I am and how my style/experience/personality aligns with what he/she needs to take them through whatever process or litigation may follow.

“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!” While Dr. Peter Venkman (yes, he held Ph.Ds in both parapsychology and psychology) was referencing the impending fall of the world in Ghostbusters, this may be the way you feel when going through your divorce matter. These cases often turn your entire life upside down in ways you never thought imaginable. Suddenly you are picking apart everything you have ever done to determine who cared for the children more during the marriage, who oversaw the finances, and how you ended up in the situation now consuming your existence. Critically, everything you say, email, text or post anywhere online or otherwise could be used against you in a custody or financial dispute. As a result, always keep in mind that everything and anything can (and oftentimes does) end up as some form of exhibit in front of a Judge, whether at trial, as part of a motion, as part of an expert evaluation or otherwise. More importantly, remember that this experience is merely temporary and will come to an end like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (so long as you do not cross the streams).

“She’s gone. She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.” Lloyd Dabler was overcome with emotion after Diane Court broke up with him, and it was that emotion that guided him through the rest of Say Anything even as he held a boombox (remember those?) over his head outside of her house playing a Peter Gabriel song. Emotion, for better or worse, is often the guiding force in a divorce or post-divorce matter. When I first meet with a potential client, he/she wants to know what I think of their case, what will happen, how long will it take and what will it cost. What I often say in response after having laid out for a potential client the law and how I think the law applies to the facts as they were presented to me is that “it depends”. The actual legal issues involved, however, are commonly not what will likely determine how long a case goes or how expensive it will be. Rather, it is the parties’ emotions that drives a case from start to finish. While completely understandable, emotion, however, can create a level of acrimony and litigation that takes what could be a very simple case and makes it far more complicated. It is very important, as a result, to remember that while you are human and going through an incredibly difficult time in your life, focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel will not only aid in potentially shortening the length and reducing the cost of your matter, but will allow you to move on with a sense of peace both with yourself and your former spouse or partner.

“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” It is scary how many younger people I talk to who have never seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, let alone heard Matthew Broderick utter what may be the most famous line from any 80s film. Ultimately, your divorce, post-divorce dispute, custody litigation or otherwise will come to an end and you will move on with your life. How you get there is, in many ways, up to you. Your love for your children, attention to their well-being and attention to your own health will always be at the forefront of your life. Like Cameron Frye after he destroyed his father’s Ferrari, the sooner you get to that next phase, the faster you can get on with whatever steps you are going to take next.

Finally, I leave you with this 80s Danny DeVito quote from The War of the Roses, “There are two dilemmas that rattle the human skull. How do you hold onto someone who won’t stay? And how do you get rid of someone who won’t go?” If you find yourself experiencing either of those two dilemmas, it could be time to find the right attorney who can help you through what a very difficult and emotional time in your life.

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