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Divorce • Family law • estate planning
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A rise in hostility among divorcing spouses

There has been an increase in hostility among divorcing couples who prefer to go to court instead of attempt to work together in an effort to reach a compromise. The issues of contention are the same as they have always been, namely, child custody, support and division of property. However, the hostility has risen to such a degree that couples are often unable to forge a cooperative relationship for the benefit of their young children. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), several divorce attorneys have noticed a rise in combative behavior among their clients. Some attorneys attribute the change in behavior to the hostile political climate in the nation’s capital.

Among the 1,650 members who gave a response to the questionnaire, 54 percent said they have witnessed more antagonistic conduct between divorcing spouses within the last three years. And 52 percent said divorcing couples are more belligerent than in years past. According to John Slowiaczek, president of the AAML, the surge in the level of anger in divorces is a reflection of the deterioration in society at large.

Families do not dine together anymore, and they spend more time on their cellphones than speaking to each other. Fewer people attend church services, and more are principally interested in their own personal satisfaction. Complicating matters is the widespread use of the internet, especially social media, which is an avenue through which divorcing couples can vent their anger.

But some couples may be trying to lessen the hostility, for an increased number of them have been asking for a guardian ad litem to assist in deciding who gets custody of the child. Guardians ad litem are knowledgeable of the law, and judges frequently adopt their recommendations. Also, the report issued by the guardian ad litem usually encourages the spouses to arrive at a settlement.

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