We know we’re onto something good when that little editor in the back of our head tells us not to do it.
“You’ll offend your readers,” it chirps.
“Stick with something everybody will like,” it pleads.
Ahhh… but that little voice is no fun. If we listened to him we never would have amounted to much.
So, alas, here we go.
What follows are our “wild” thoughts on America’s divorce industry.
If there were ever a topic filled with more myths, more corruption and more pain… we don’t know about it (but we’d certainly write about it if we did).
We could skip the topic and avoid potentially offending half our readers, but what I’m about to share is too powerful to simply brush aside.
Yes, it may make a few readers squeamish (we’re not doing our job if we don’t), but it’s guaranteed to open eyes, add some truth to an industry filled with lies and, if we do it right, change the fortunes of a few families.
Here’s the deal…
Contrary to mainstream beliefs, the divorce rate in this country is falling. But the devastation created by the destruction of a marriage is rising faster than ever.
In other words, with a bit of luck, the couples getting hitched today may experience divorce rates approaching just 25% – far less than the 50% figure often touted.
But the unlucky few who break their nuptials are in for a world of pain.
The Usual Suspects
Sure, our culture has a lot to do with it, but so does our government, its system of wonky laws and the lawyers who feed off of them.
In all, America’s divorce industry is worth a whopping $50 billion each year. Meanwhile, the bridal industry is worth a mere $2 billion.
That fact alone should tell us all we need to know.
There are piranhas in the water. They prey on the pain of a failed relationship. They’re a leading reason divorce is so painful, so expensive and so divisive.
There’s an ad we hear on the radio quite often. It’s from a law firm. It specializes, so it says, in protecting a man’s rights during a divorce.
Come to us, their ad begs, and we’ll make sure you get what’s yours. That evil wench (the same woman you once cherished with all your heart) won’t get a dime more than she deserves.
On the outside, it sounds fair enough. None of us wants to be taken advantage of.
But law firms like this one take full advantage of our court system’s fatal flaw…
You see, these lawyers know that it costs just 20 minutes and about $50 to get married. Yet it costs an average of $15,000 to undo the whole damned thing. And, if the lawyer gets real lucky, it will be an angry divorce where the bill stretches to 50 grand… 100 grand… or even a brand-new boat.
Things tend to get out of hand so quickly because America still uses the same adversarial litigation system that was used in colonial England.
For some reason, America still relies on a system that allows just one person – usually a judge – to rip children from the hands of their parents, to take your assets and to dock your future paychecks.
Your fate lies in the hands of that single person… no matter if he’s having a bad day, hates your lawyer or simply feels he was too easy on the last fellow.
If you’ve been through a nasty divorce (I pray you haven’t), you know our court system favors the loudest, most aggressive side.
If your wife takes you to court (I pray she never does) and brings a vicious lawyer, you better not bring Mr. Timid. The only time you’ll see your kids is when you’re dropping off your mortgage check.
Our system begs to hear the loudest voice. It’s a leftover idea from the days when men pleaded their cases to the king.
Ye with the loudest voice shall win.
Here it is according to Joe Sorge, the producer of a film aptly titled Divorce Corp.:
The idea was to make the most compelling argument possible – not sparing any insult that you may cast at the other side to make them look unworthy. The king enjoyed this; it was entertainment for the king to hear two people criticizing each other and essentially fighting with words.
It’d still be entertaining… if it weren’t so sad.
Because the party with the best argument tends to win in court, a lawyer’s sole job is to paint the other party in the worst possible light.
Every detail… every bad habit… and every argument come out in court.
Two folks who once wept as they gave their vows are turned into mortal enemies as they stand in front of a judge. The system forces them to fight for their lives.
How often they see their kids, what’s left of their paychecks and even where they live is in the hands of a judge who tends to side with the person with the loudest, most compelling argument.
It doesn’t prepare folks too well for life after divorce.
It leads to bitterness.
As the court process lingers on, kids are forced to choose sides. Spouses who perhaps could have moved on amicably are now angry and broke. Their lawyers, though? Well, life is good on their new boats.
Even in the enviable uncontested divorce, the law says there must be sides.
Even if the spouses agree to it, a lawyer can’t represent both parties. No, each arm of the angry couple must choose their man… and hope he’s not late on his boat payments. For if he wants to contest the uncontested, it’s going to get expensive.
Divorce is a nasty beast.
We don’t need to tell readers that.
But it doesn’t have to be as bad as it is.
The system – a system that thrives on pain and control – is old, broken and just plain sadistic.
If we want to toss rocks at our broken culture, here’s a worthy and grand target.
Fix our nation’s backward views on marriage and divorce, and we’ll fix a lot of what ails us.