Some marriage dissolutions proceed in such a smooth fashion that those observing the split-up muse that if the couple had only shown similar levels of cooperation and concern during their married years there would have been no reason for the divorce. Other splitting couples seem to rip at each other with vile and rancor. They fight over meaningless trinkets. They weaponize everything, even the children. Marriage counselors and divorce attorneys caution that usually little, if anything, is gained by lashing out at the other spouse, even when the fault for the split-up is one-sided.
Recent Washington Case
One recent Washington State appellate decision shows how destructive – and how expensive – anger against an ex-spouse can be. The case, In re Marriage of Fellows [2016 Wash. App. LEXIS 2883 (Nov. 28, 2016)], involved a divorcing couple whose decree of dissolution awarded the family home to the husband, but allowed the wife to live there for an additional two months. The order also provided that the husband pay the wife $54,000 for her interest in the residence. In a separate order, the court cautioned the wife not to “sabotage” the house and indicated further, that if damage was done, the parties could come back for a contempt consideration.
$145,000 in Damages to Former Residence
After the ex-wife moved out, the ex-husband discovered that paint was splattered and streaked across the interior and exterior of the house. There were holes in the walls, doors, cabinets, floors, and ceilings. The baseboards, doorframes, and windowsills were damaged. There were cracks and chips in the tile, the countertops, the bathroom sinks, and one of the mirrors. There were numerous handwritten messages on the walls addressed to “Chuck” and “Chucky” (the ex-husband’s nickname). There was a small round hole and a message scratched into the front door. One estimate as to the cost to repair put the damages at almost $145,000. At the contempt hearing, testimony was offered that the ex-spouse told a neighbor that she had done the damage and that she couldn’t wait until her ex-husband saw it.
Following a contentious hearing, the trial court found the ex-wife in contempt of court and indicated that the ex-wife could purge the contempt by paying a specified sum of money to the ex-husband.
Don’t Cut Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face
Assuming the correctness of the trial court’s findings (the appellate court did not dispute them), it seems clear that the ex-wife’s anger at her ex-husband turned out to be expensive. As cathartic as the ex-wife’s outward expression of anger might have been, the person who suffered the most from the outburst was not the ex-husband, but herself. Family law attorneys advise that courts have little patience with this sort of behavior. Since the court had cautioned the ex-wife about potential damage before the damage was done, the court decided that the ex-wife had not only shown contempt for her former husband, but for the court itself. That isn’t a place you want to be if you are involved in family law litigation.
Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. – Strong, Experienced Family Law Attorneys
Blado Kiger Bolan, P.S. is a strong, experienced, and imaginative law firm that can provide clarity in difficult moments. We have more than 30 years of combined experience providing quality family law services to individuals throughout the Pacific Northwest. Our attorneys work together to find solutions. You benefit from the experience of not just one attorney, but all the attorneys at Blado Kiger Bolan. We don’t believe in complicating matters and driving up costs. If there’s a simple solution, that’s our first choice. We work closely with you to resolve matters quickly and economically. Contact us on the web, or call our office at 253-272-2997.