In our last newsletter, we premiered the QUOTE OF THE YEAR, with the FNRA arbitrator who acknowledged that being caught lying to Wall Street and Main Street about his credentials was a bit of a problem. Well, maybe we should have called it the LDRC QUOTE OF THE QUARTER (more or less as circumstances suggest). Today, we borrow one from the Boston Globe columnist, Jennifer Graham, who discussed what she bemoaned is a “fringe” movement to make divorce more difficult for splitting parties to obtain, in a widely noted June column. Ms. Graham observed that divorce is not “yet” a sacrament, but that it is:

“…a sacred cow with poisonous teats.”

Wow. We have thought a lot about divorce, our own experiences as clients, judge, lawyers, mediators and arbitrators, but we have never managed to summarize the institution with such a glib and cynical spirit. Ms. Graham, of course, was speaking politically, while rhetorically grabbing for op-ed reader attention; and from persona, but not professional, experience. The point of her tasteless metaphor is that the society is too invested in no-fault divorce to turn back. She is probably right in that, but she is at least as naïve in suggesting that people would reverse the agonizing decision to legally split, if only they could see how a day in court. More real even than reality TV!

We are proud of the work that we pursue together. We do not encourage divorce; and so far as we can tell, we don’t cause it, either. We do our best to provide an respectful service in a cost-sensitive manner, while encouraging people to make their own decisions, in a way that saves unnecessary wear and tear on the family. At the very least, we pledge to do no harm to relationships that often must endure despite marriage’s end, in the process of facilitating settlements. We address Ms. Graham’s piece a bit more in our blog today (below); and lest it leave think that we are a bit defensive in it, we assure that we are not: we believe in what we do.

Meanwhile, the summer is flying by and we look forward to a bit of vacation, a lot of grandkids and a momentous family celebration at summer’s end.

Today’s newsletter features

-- our friend and office neighbor, Chris Wilmerding, of Thayer Partners, and wealth manager and financial advisor of great wisdom and balance, who offers “A Roadmap to Financial Security”. Sound advice.

-- more of the lighter side of accounting from CPA Rich Streitfeld, whose advice, as usual, is serious without taking itself seriously.

-- today’s LDRC blog about Jennifer Graham’s piece (above) our some reaction to it; which is also the portal to our bi-weekly blog that will unpacking the recent case on Hassan v. Hassan on alimony over the next month or two.

Don’t be a stranger. Send in your submissions for guest pieces, on anything that you think will be interesting and/or entertaining to our readers, to wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com. Authorized re-prints are welcome.

Enjoy the read and have an good summer.

Chouteau and Bill

A Roadmap to Financial Security

By: Chris Wilmerding

Divorce, death of a spouse and serious illness are constants, which cause upheaval in millions of lives every day. The cruel irony is that often these unpleasant experiences have a double whammy. People suffer through the angst, anger, loss and many other emotions to the point of exhaustion only to encounter a whole new world called personal finance. Managing budgets, incomes and investments are often handled by one spouse, leaving the other spouse happily ignorant until something happens. ” read more...

Stay in your groove
(Keeping records without going off track)

By: Rich Streitfeld CPA

How long should I keep tax records?

B. Madoff, Investor

In general it's advisable to save documentation supporting your tax return for seven years. The IRS generally has three years from the date of filing to audit your return, but up to seven if it suspects you under-reported your income. read more...

Do Mediators and Court Reformers Enable Divorce? Jennifer Graham Might Think So


In her June 16, 2014 Boston Globe column "The divorce is worse than the marriage", Jennifer Graham praised a movement to curtail access to divorce in America, lamenting that “conservative” efforts to make divorce more difficult to obtain carry the political/cultural tag of being "fringe". She contends that the near universal right of divorce without cause has become politically correct and, thus, immune from clear-eyed political re-examination. Coupled with the damage that divorce inflicts on family life, social stability and children's well-being, she crudely terms divorce in the 21st century a "...sacred cow with poisonous teats...” To stem the tide, Ms. Graham suggests that perhaps pre-divorcing couples ought be required to endure a day in family court before filing is permitted. Her thesis suggests that watching the humiliation of others will slap couples back to sensibility, domestic tranquility, or at least resignation. Sort of a domestic Reefer Madness.

Tasteless analogy aside, Ms. Graham ‘s piece raises an ironic question: do people who dedicate their professional lives to making divorce less humiliating and costly, more humane and child-sensitive, cause more harm than good, by making the divorce experience less poisonous for families?

They come in many professions and roles. They are judges, probation officers and lawyers; psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers; teachers and researchers; accountants and financial consultants. They experiment, innovate, mediate and collaborate.

As divorce mediators, do we work at cross-purposes to Ms. Graham’s defenders of marriage? read more...

© 2019 Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC. Dedham and Northampton, MA
781.708.4445 | 413.341.1017 | Email: wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

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