by Jill H. Breslau

Separation and divorce are among the most stressful life transitions, and self care becomes crucial if you are going to handle the transition with clear focus and good judgment.

I encourage my divorce clients to take care of themselves.  Not just in the casual, “Okay, take care, bye” sense of it, but seriously.  So when a client says, “I’m in therapy,” or “I signed up for a membership at the gym,” I am delighted.  It is so helpful to have a safe place to talk and vent your feelings, and, of course, we know the importance of exercise, not only in promoting physical health but in generating those invaluable feelings of well-being.

As you might predict, I don’t always take my own advice.  But this year, I am.  I am headed out of town on a yoga retreat, which I hope will give me increased flexibility in all dimensions, mental as well as physical.  I want more creativity, more nimbleness of mind in coming up with potential win-win solutions.  I want more compassion when my clients and their spouses get into stuck places during divorce, and more patience with lawyers who only see divorce as a war, not as an opportunity to solve problems and build a different, but still respectful, relationship.

Mr. and Mrs. Courson were married for less than a year when Mrs. Courson decided to leave him.  But after talking to her father-in-law, who was a marriage counselor, she had a change of heart.  The father-in-law told the husband that the wife wanted to reconcile but the husband flatly refused.  A child was born during the separation but the husband showed no interest in either the child or the wife.

He filed for divorce on grounds of desertion and she countersued for desertion.  The husband then hired a private detective to follow the wife for $25 a week.  The detective was able to surprise the wife and a male companion in a parked car in a wooden area near Loch Raven Dam in the early hours of the morning.  The trial court granted the husband an absolute divorce based on adultery.

The wife appealed and the Maryland Court of Appeals asked what effect was to be given to the fact that the husband had abandoned the wife, and therefore the husband was guilty of an offense which the statute says is a cause for divorce by the wife?

“Recrimination”, the Court of Appeals said, “is generally defined as a rule or doctrine which precludes one spouse from obtaining a divorce from the other, where the spouse seeking a divorce has himself or herself been guilty of conduct which would entitle the opposite spouse to a divorce.”  Based on the wife’s defense of recrimination, the Court reversed the trial judge and vacated the divorce.  Courson v. Courson, 208 Md. 171; 117 A.2d 850 (1955).

Postlogue:  In 1983, the Legislature decreed that recrimination no longer be a bar to divorce at Family Law Section 7-103(b), and it has no application in no-fault divorces.  But it still may be a factor to be considered by the court in cases involving adultery.

Every once in a while, I get to use the word pettifogger in a letter. A pettifogger is someone who likes to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters.

I was responding to one of those lawyers who is dead right on the law, but dead wrong on being sensible.  In the middle of mediation his client has taken a small and unnecessary action that is permitted by law, but which will torpedo the good faith environment required for successful conflict resolution.

Now I am looking for a chance to use flibbertigibbet, which means a chattering or flighty, light headed person or gossip.

Alimony statistics

Some alimony statistics:

  • Americans paid $9.4 billion in alimony to former spouses in 2007.  (IRS)
  • That’s up from $5.6 billion a decade earlier.  (IRS)
  • 97% of alimony-payers were men last year.   (U.S. Census)
  • The percentage of women supporting ex-husbands is increasing.  (U.S. Census)
  • Women made up 46.7% of the work force last year.  (DOL)
  • That’s up from 41.2% in 1978.  (DOL)
  • Women, 45 to 54 years old, earn 75% as much as men the same age.

– from “The New Art of Alimony” by Jennifer Levitz for the Wall Street Journal

It is always nice to hear from other bloggers.  This morning, I received an email from Donna Mitchell, who has listed her Top 20 Sites for Do It Yourself Law on her blog, Paralegal Schools Online.  You can also find legal information specifically for Maryland, Virginia and DC divorces on our website.

Joseph Keller updated this post on August 13, 2018, with this list of online resources for divorce.

How do you pay for a divorce attorney when you have no money? That’s a question I get a lot. Here are some answers culled from the comments at

  • Second and third jobs
  • Cash in all savings
  • Borrow from pension
  • Sell Assets
  • Borrow from friends and family
  • Credit cards
  • Cut living expenses
  • Line of credit
  • Home equity loan

Please leave a comment here and tell us how you paid for a lawyer in your divorce.

TLC said on Tuesday that “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ will be renamed “Kate Plus 8″ due to recent changes in family dynamics.

On Thursday, octodad, Jon Gosselin told Larry King,”The reason I don’t think it’s healthy for them is that we’re going through a divorce right now, and I don’t think it should be televised and I think my kids should be taken off the show.”

“They’re 5 and 8 now; let them experience a normal childhood,” he said.

Gosselin’s lawyer predicts  no judge would ever “subject the children to the show if the father believes it’s detrimental.”

It sounds like a legal maneuver to me.  I think Gosselin and his lawyer will have to explain to a judge why it was ok for the children to be televised for the last four years and now it is not.  And the show is the income source for the family.

Here is a poem about divorces and separations.

“Divorced, beheaded, died,
Divorced, beheaded, survived.”

— Rhyme about the fate of those half dozen queens that were married to Henry VIII, King of England (1491-1547).  They were, in order:

Catherine of Aragon
Anne Boleyn
Jane Seymour
Anne of Cleves
Catherine Howard
Catherine Parr

how to decathect and deal with divorce feelings

Divorce is painful. It helps to have a word to attach to all those painful divorce feelings.

I found this word to be useful in describing the process of healing and letting go that occurs over time in a divorce.

de•ca•thect:  Pronunciation: (de-“ku-thekt’), verb, to withdraw one’s feelings of attachment from (a person, idea, or object), as in anticipation of a future loss:  He decathected from her in order to cope with their impending divorce. – Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.

How do you decathect?  Here are a couple of tips from cognitive therapy.

  1. Whenever you think of your ex, associate them with something you find unpleasant or revolting.  Imagine them covered with garbage with flies buzzing around.
  2. Wear a rubber band around your wrist.  Whenever you think of your ex, snap the rubber band and say to yourself “Stop!”

These may seem silly, but keep doing it and over time and you will decathect.

Extrinsic Fraud

James Hresko asked the court to reopen his uncontested divorce for fraud because he said his ex-wife misrepresented her assets in negotiating a settlement agreement.  But the Maryland courts will only reopen a case if the fraud is extrinsic, not intrinsic.

What is extrinsic fraud?  Black’s Law Dictionary says it is the type of fraud which is collateral to the issues tried in the case.  The court says it is fraud which actually prevents a trial. Examples of extrinsic fraud would be:

  • An opponent keeps a party away from court.
  • A false promise of compromise.
  • A party did not have knowledge of the suit.
  • An attorney pretends to represent someone they do not.
  • An attorney corruptly sells out his client.

James said his ex prevented him from trying the case by keeping him away from the court with a false promise of compromise.  To be continued.