Mediating Conflict,
Embracing Peace

Burning down the house: divorce settlement leads to husband’s fiery outburst

Divorce can obviously be a very contentious process when the relationship has ended in a particularly upsetting manner. When couples enter into the divorce process with animosity toward one another, bad things can happen. Parties are more likely to fight over inconsequential matters, to act out, and to see injustice in the outcome of their case.

To take an extreme example, consider the story of a Massachusetts man who set fire to a $900,000 home to ensure that his future ex-wife was unable to take possession of the property. The man, who had personally built the home, set fire to it one day before the divorce settlement was to be finalized. According to the man’s attorney, the mortgage was going to be split while the wife was to take possession.

Obviously, this type of behavior is uncommon even among divorcing couples who harbor animosity toward one another. Nevertheless, on some level it is understandable. Imagine how frustrating it would be to be paying half of the mortgage for the family home that you built and to not be able to enjoy the property at all. Granted, there are a variety of factors to consider in any property division case. What makes for a fair distribution of assets is not always obvious to those who are outsiders to the case.

While a lot could be said about the story, the angle we’ll take here is this: while it isn’t possible to guarantee a particular outcome with respect to property division in divorce, it is absolutely critical to work with an experienced attorney to ensure your interests are zealously advocated through the divorce process. Though the outcome of a case depends on the law and the specific facts of the case, as well as the discretion of the judge, the better represented a party is in court, the better chance they have of achieving a favorable outcome. Such an outcome doesn’t always need to be measured in strict financial terms, though. We’ll say more about this in another post.