Sunday, March 04, 2007

The cost of conflict: what happens when we frame divorce as combat

Framing divorce as combatMary Whisner at shlep, the legal self-help blog, points to an article on "The Many Costs of Conflict" by dispute resolution consultant Stewart Levine, which describes the heavy financial, emotional, and other tolls that conflict exacts.

According to Levine, these include:

  • Direct Cost: Fees of lawyers and other professionals

  • Productivity Cost: Value of lost time. The opportunity cost of what those involved would otherwise be producing.

  • Continuity Cost: Loss of ongoing relationships including the "community" they embody

  • Emotional Cost: The pain of focusing on and being held hostage by your emotions
It made me wonder what shlep and Levine would make of a new book on divorce for women by attorney Sherri Donovan: Hit Him Where It Hurts: The Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Divorce--Alimony, Custody, Child Support, and More.

The pugilistic theme doesn't end with the title: the book jacket is adorned with a photo of a blood-red boxing glove. Chapters include "Are You Ready to Rumble?", "Divorce Ain't for Sissies", "Sizing Up Your Opponent", "Conditioning for the Fight of Your Life", and "Psyching Up for the Fight".

It should leave us all asking what kind of casualties result when divorce is framed as either prizefight or combat.