April 24, 2013

Divorce Disputes to Avoid: Tupperware and Maternity Clothing

Divorce Word Cloud ConceptAs a divorce attorney, I often ask myself   “What is this dispute really about?”  This is also a good question for each person going through a divorce.

In an early case I had before I started practicing collaborative divorce,  an ex-wife sued my client after the divorce was final.  Her motion  said that he had wrongfully taken the Tupperware and her maternity clothing and she wanted those items.  We actually had a court hearing on this and her ex-husband had to get on the witness stand and testify.  He testified that  he did not have the Tupperware and he did not have and had no use for her maternity clothes.

That brought out a chuckle from those in the courtroom and the judge stifled a grin.  The motion was denied and I felt like we “won.”

Looking back, I now realize that the divorce did not resolve some underlying issues which caused the dispute to keep on going.   In a traditional divorce, the legal issues control the outcome in court and the emotional issues determine how long and how costly the dispute is.

In a collaborative divorce, both the emotional and legal issues are acknowledged and addressed.  The process we use focuses on the interests the parties have – and in my experience most of those interests are shared by both.  If there are differences, those are discussed.  The basic facts needed  are incomes, values of assets, debt balances –which can easily be verified by documents.   Those assets that are harder to value such as homes, businesses – can be valued by a neutral expert agreed to by both

The emotions of anger and perceived wrongs of the past can impede progress in reaching a final agreement.  In a collaborative divorce, a neutral coach who is a mental health professional working with the couple, helps them work through those impediments to  a settlement.

If you are going through a divorce, you want to avoid arguing about the Tupperware and get some help to focus on what your real interests are and how you can reach an agreement.

Linda OjalaABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linda Ojala
Attorney, Baker Vicchiollo Law

Linda Ojala, J.D. has been practicing collaborative divorce since 1993 and believes that most people want to avoid court and make their own decisions about their future. As a Financial Early Neutral Evaluator for Hennepin County Family Court since 2007, she has helped couples make realistic assessments of possible outcomes in court. Learn more at www.TwinCitiesFamilyLawAttorney.com

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3 Responses to Divorce Disputes to Avoid: Tupperware and Maternity Clothing

  1. I similarly once heard of a case where the parties were fighting over a breastpump. The husband claiming he wanted it because he had originally paid for it. Obviously there were more issues to be resolved and collaborative would have been a more useful process to find resolutions. Unfortunately, litigation does not typically allow for those discussions to occur. It ends up coming down to a fight about a pump.

  2. Mary Antonia Wilmes says:

    Thanks, Linda. One of my favorite cartoons is in a courtroom. A man and woman are on the floor dividing beanie babies as the judge watches….and you’re right–the issue couldn’t really have been beanie babies.

  3. RJ says:

    The issue IS usually about the itmes, because it comes down to one person taking control of the other person’s life and property.
    I personally know many people who have had similar situations as the article and the comments.
    Look at it this way:
    You are the vic and someone (who is now in a courtroom) has taken your property and you can’t prove it cuz the said “they didn’t need or couldn’t use” said property and other people are now laughing at you and you are now more demeaned. This is exactly what the other person wanted.
    Someone could have beaten the vic, it would have been better and the bruises would have healed—not this
    Think about what I said the next time you see and hear things like this.
    It is probably not funny

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