Now that I'm in my 40s, some of my friends who are married with children are starting to divorce. I've seen firsthand how hard it is for them at home and at work. One friend completely botched a work assignment because she was so emotionally spent. It's almost impossible to hide your personal life from your boss when you need to ask for time off for depositions.
Still, I had no idea what a hot button divorce is in the year 2010. The rules are different with women working, alimony in flux and men seeking joint custody.
In my Balancing Act column a few weeks ago, I wrote about efforts by the American Bar Association to make divorce less destructive on families. I have been inundated with email from across the country. Men and women want to tell me their sad stories of bitter divorces and how difficult it has been to keep their jobs and their kids on track while battling with a former spouse. It must be so tough to be a family law judge.
Then there's this new element of social media. Facebook and other social networks, such as Twitter, Flickr, Photobucket and MySpace, are becoming the latest legal tool in divorce and child-support battles.A recent article in the Orlando Sentinel discusses just how nasty it has become.
In response to my article, I have heard from lawyers who believe mediation and collaborative law are the answer. I have heard from proponents and opponents of joint custody. I have been accused of being part of a media conspiracy that favors the father's movement. I have been told that alimony is at the heart of divorce disputes and that permanent alimony is hardship that today's workers can't afford.
I am left with my original thought. Something needs to change. Destructive divorces hurt employers when productivity is affected. It hurts children when they're pulled in two directions and it hurts the people going through it who suffer emotionally and financially.
If you've been through a divorce, what do you feel would make the process better for your home and work life?