January 7, 2014

Learning to Forgive in Divorce

Categories: Collaborative LawDivorce

We were deep in the holidays, a time of love, a time of sharing, a time for forgiveness.  Heading home from work last week, I was brought up short by a stunning story of forgiveness that originated in the Twin Cities, and that begs the question, “What is really important to me?”

Recently, I’ve had to deal with questions such as, “Am I going to have to pay the capital gains on the property I was awarded?” or, “I don’t think it’s fair that I should have to pay more maintenance than $______,” or, “I want to know what she’s spending the child support on!”

Mary Johnson, a Minneapolis mother, lost her son 20 years ago in a party fight that escalated into a murder. The man responsible, Oshea Israel, was sent to prison. In her StoryCorps interview with Oshea Israel, Mary talks about the change that happened when she visited Oshea in prison, a change which eventually allowed her to forgive him. She founded From Death to Life, an organization that supports mothers who have lost children to homicide, and encourages forgiveness between families of murderers and victims.

I can’t help but wonder, when people complain about everything they’ve “lost” in their divorce, what they would say to Mary Johnson. And I wonder whether they’ll ever be able to forgive each other for fighting about the “stuff” and take the time to cherish their children. I think I know what Mary would tell them.

Steve Yasgur

Stevan Yasgur is a Collaborative Family Law attorney practicing in Edina, MN. A 1980 graduate of the William Mitchell College of Law, he was active in the organized bar early in his career and drafted legislation amending the child support law. He has tried numerous dissolution cases and resolved hundreds of others without trial. For the last decade, his practice has emphasized assisting clients in the Collaborative process. He is also a qualified Rule 114 neutral on the Supreme Court's roster of qualified neutrals. He is a member and past-president of the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota, and a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

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