Sunday, March 3, 2024

THE ’NETTE EFFECT: Marriage, divorce and lawyers


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A few weeks ago I stopped in by an eatery looking for some pudding and souse.

Therein I stumbled across my good friend WG and his friend DM whiling away the time talking from one thing to the next, a bottle in their midst. I cannot attribute the nature of conversations to the contents upon the table for in them I did find a lot of things that made sense.

With nowhere to go in a hurry, I engaged them, or rather they engaged me since I was butting in on the conversation.

Pretty soon everyday matters consumed the conversation and the most intriguing was the break-up of relationships.

“I don’t understand why people make this thing so hard, I just don’t,” WG said with a wry smile.

It is a type of smile that precedes, or reveals, a naughty intent on his part.

I supposed he expected woman nature to kick in and for me to attempt to say something to the contrary.

I didn’t take the bait. My purpose there was merely for observation purposes since I was outnumbered.

DM joined him in his musings. Both divorced, their lives seemed to coincide under a set of inexplicable circumstances that brought them to be sitting at this small table somewhere on this vast earth.

“People make this breaking up so hard. I mean two people get together and then it doesn’t work out. So it doesn’t work out, big deal,” he said, or something to that effect.

The reaction should be as simple as waking up and carrying on with life without the other person. Simple.

His real gripe though was with the various intruders at the end of the relationship.

WG wanted an explanation as to why at the divorce stage, a lawyer and a judge had to decide how the property would be split.

“They weren’t there in the beginning,” he stated. “How they get there in the end?” he asked with a bit of annoyance in his voice.

I glibly replied it was the law.

Tapping the table with his index finger and with a facial expression I have become accustomed to whenever something utterly disgusted him, WG said he could not comprehend how after a couple got married – and most likely didn’t invite the judge nor lawyer at the time – spent years accumulating property, and were then subjected to the indignity of someone divvying up the spoils of their hard labour.

Both WG and DM resented that lawyers barge in at the end and without regard for the effort put in by both parties, assume that their client should get half or the majority of whatever is at stake. DM was particularly scathing of the lawyer who did nothing to ease the tension during the settlement.

It reminded me of a conversation that erupted in the newsroom once. It had to do with some sports celebrity who had to pay his wife, whom he met while at the top of his career, a substantial portion of his millions.

The consensus was that no partner should benefit so disproportionately having not contributed in the initial stages to the buildup of either’s fortune.

But that is straying just a tiny bit from my original point of difficult break-ups.

The two men at the table resented that perfect strangers come in at the end, delve into their most intimate affairs and had the most control over their property. Things that were otherwise secret are now public.

WG said the judge should not have the right to declare an end to something he knew nothing about in the first place.

“Why are they there?” WG asked matter-of-factly.

My best bet, which I did not offer then, was that the law anticipated complete breakdown and put these measures in place.

But my friend’s outlook should get other people thinking. Why after starting out with much love do couples, in any form, end up in such a blind hate for the other?

I’m not saying that was the case with my friend because you have to work really hard to offend him. In addition, the offence would have to be to such a degree that even a saint would find it hard to turn the other cheek.

I promise one day to really investigate how relationships degenerate into such deep hate that for some can lead to murderous thoughts.

The moral of this story is to keep it amicable.

• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor.


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