How Do I Act Post-Divorce?/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on December 26, 2011


A recent blog appeared on the HuffingtonPost website by Amy Chan, entitled “Unhappily Ever After”. There were parts of the article that I found to be too syrupy and yet other portions were right on target. Ms. Chan deals with how a party should conduct themself post-divorce. In the first half of her post (the part I find more difficult to “buy into”), Ms. Chan discusses how a party should always choose the “high road” even where their “ex” does not do so because “love doesn’t disappear just because the titles have”. In other words, since you were once married to your “ex”, certain behavior is to be expected even where the other party does not act in kind. In principle, this type of high-minded behavior is wonderful, but I see this as a pipe-dream with little connection to reality. In like fashion, the advice to remember the happiness you once shared, sounds better in theory than it will do in reality.

Having pointed out the impracticality (in my opinion) of Ms. Chan’s first theses, I now turn to the second half of her advice. Ms. Chan reminds us of ethical behavior that is expected of us.  While your “ex” may not have chosen the “high road”, you must remember that you can only control your own behavior, not that of your former spouse.  It is never acceptable to explain away boorish behavior by saying “S/he started”. In the conclusion, Ms. Chan develops a fool-proof test. How will the “you” of five years from now view your own behavior during the time of divorce?  Things tend to look different after the trauma has passed.  Will you be proud, then, of your actions “now”.  Most decidedly, how will your children think of your behavior?  Is your behavior of the type that you would wish your children to emulate as they go through life’s challenges and traumas?

Acting civilly during divorce is not something many attorneys will necessarily focus upon.  But you will have a life post-divorce. How do you wish to view your own behavior as it played out during the throes of divorce.  The post by Ms. Chan gives us much food for thought in that direction.