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Why the Academy Awards Are Now Irrelevant: The times, they are a-changin’

27 Jan

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

By Mike McGee.

The Oscar nominations for 2015 demonstrate that the Academy Awards and the whole structure behind them are rapidly becoming obsolete and irrelevant. Actually they may already be irrelevant, holding on only to past glory. The racial issue is only one more symbol of the obsolescence of the formerly great institution. Continue reading

Vacation Time for Me! Go Back & Read the Old Ones

18 Jul

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

I’ve written almost a hundred thousand words on my blog over the past year. It’s July, and its time I had a vacation, and I need to finish one or two other projects as well. So there won’t be any new blog entries for the next month or so. Don’t worry. I shall return. I’m not finished with you yet! You don’t get off that easy!

So until I return in early September, I invite you to go back over the Index of Posts and read some of my earlier blogs. The titles on each blog are fairly descriptive of what you’ll find inside. If you like one of these old blogs please hit the “like” button and I’ll get a message; so I’ll feel like somebody, somewhere in the world, misses me.

The Berlin Wall of the East

9 Jul

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

As a patriotic American, I really don’t like to be critical of my country’s foreign policy. I am doing so here, and I regret the necessity to do so. Yet one of the common themes of my writing is that policies and practices which worked in the twentieth century don’t necessarily remain useful in the ongoing progress of the twenty-first century. The Berlin Wall of the East is one such ancient policy which needs to be seriously re-examined to find a more productive and effective way of dealing with our important international relations.

The Korean War ended in in 1953 in a truce, not a peace treaty, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by a heavily fortified border along the 38th Parallel, which divides North Korea and South Korea. This “Berlin Wall of the East” is monitored by the U.N. Command. Washington also stations 28,500 American troops in South Korea to protect its ally against “North Korean aggression.”

The armed border between the Koreas is one of the last remnants of the twentieth-century cold war. It does not belong in the twenty-first century, and the barrier should be torn down. US and UN troops should go home and leave the two Koreas to work out their future together.

The United States was always so angry and upset about the Berlin Wall, built by the Soviet Union to keep the border between East and West Germany fully defended. “Tear down this wall!” was the challenge issued by United States President Ronald Reagan to the Soviet Union, in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate near the Berlin Wall in 1987.

Not long after this speech the wall was torn down. There was no cataclysm. Now Germans in the east and west parts of the country work together for common goals. The ravaged eastern part of the country was easily absorbed by the more wealthy western part of Germany.

Yet it is we, the United States, who are so insistent about maintaining the 38th Parallel wall between the two Koreas: predicting catastrophe and chaos if there is any interchange between North and South. We are acting just like the Soviets did in Germany during the European part of the cold war. It’s time to end the mentality that keeps a “war” going even when there is no war.

The United States always seemed to care more about the Europeans, with whom we share a common culture. Our moral outrage was directed toward the Berlin Wall which kept all these Europeans from mixing with one another. When Asians are involved, though, there’s a cultural barrier we can’t see here in the US. We can’t even comprehend the moral outrage of maintaining a “38th Parallel” wall of our own making: keeping a war going that was over by the middle of the twentieth century.

Is it any wonder that the North Koreans sees the United States as a war-like people who only want to keep them from joining the world community? After all, we’re the ones who are keeping up all the barriers. We’re the ones who’ve kept a choke-hold on North Korea for almost sixty years, without any let-up and without any sign of remorse. We claim that they are the “hermit kingdom,” yet we are the ones who keep them isolated, by brute force and major economic sanctions.

Can no one see that dear leader Kim Jong Un wants to be free of the choke-hold of the twentieth century cold war imposed relentlessly by the United States against North Korea? Sure, Kim rattles sabers. He knows as well as we do, though, that the North Korean Army is like blades of grass, easily cut down by the giant lawnmower of the US and South Korea if they attack.

North Korea in land area is about the size of the US state of Mississippi, which has the lowest per capita income of any state in the US. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Mississippi in 2012 was $98 billion dollars.

The total GDP of North Korea during this same period was $28 billion dollars. This almost unimaginable lack of economic activity in North Korea is the best way to understand the inability of North Korea to be a credible military threat to any country. Another way to look at it is to note that the GDP of North Korea is less than 3 per cent of the GDP of South Korea. North Korea at the present time has virtually no financial capacity at all. How can such a nation be such a feared enemy of the United States?

So, everyone knows North Korea does not have even the slightest potential to defeat the US and South Korea in a “war.” It wouldn’t even be a war if the North Koreans took it on themselves to invade South Korea. It would be a one-sided slaughter. The United States knows this, and Kim Jong Un knows this. Why, then, are we keeping up this tawdry twentieth century cold war façade?

The leaders of North Korea have been asking for an end to the cold war 38th Parallel wall for some time. Sin Son Ho, Permanent Representative for North Korea to the U.N., spoke during a press conference on Friday, June 21, 2013 at U.N. headquarters in New York. See http://news.yahoo.com/nkorea-demands-dissolution-un-command-skorea-160628448.html

Ambassador Sin said U.S.-North Korea talks should include replacing the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. One of the “prerequisite requirements” for establishing “a peace mechanism” to replace the armistice, he said, is the dissolution of the U.S.-led U.N. Command [and by inference dismantling the wall between north and south].

The ambassador said the talks can include “a world without nuclear weapons,” which the United States has already proposed.

But he warned that North Korea will not give up its nuclear “self-defense deterrent” unless the United States “fundamentally and irreversibly abandons its hostile policy and nuclear threat” toward the North and dissolves the U.N. Command [and tears down the wall], “and as long as there are nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.”

I’m aware that South Korea currently has no nuclear weapons. It’s possible that the United States maintains one or more nuclear missile launch sites in South Korea. If there are any, they should be removed immediately, without even waiting for any reciprocity. The US has enough deterrent power in reserve, so that keeping nuclear weapons anywhere on the Korean Peninsula is a dangerously stupid and provocative thing for us to do.

In 1962 we gave the same message as Ambassador Sin is giving to us now, to the Soviets when they tried to move missiles into Cuba. Even though the North Koreans don’t have the same “bully pulpit” that John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan had, it’s clear that in this ideological battle they have the moral high ground, and we are in the same position as the Soviets were back then.

When you get past the angry rhetoric, it’s as if the new “dear leader” Kim Jong Un really does want to reunite the two Koreas. It’s abundantly clear that he has no idea how to govern North Korea. It’s probable that he feels a great weight of responsibility for the welfare of the 25 million people who are suffering under an almost nonexistent government, while their South Korean brethren are living good and prosperous lives. If the 38th Parallel wall is removed it’s likely that the dear leader and his top lieutenants will leave the country and retire in Switzerland or Hong Kong or even in Beijing.

If the wall at the 38th Parallel is taken down, the least likely scenario is that hordes of fierce soldiers will invade from the north. This scenario may have been likely in 1953, or even in 1983. It will not happen now, in the twenty-first century. The Korean peninsula has changed. The rest of the world has changed.

China will not feel threatened by having capitalists moving up the peninsula right to their border. They have the same ability to repel cross-border Korean invaders at this time as we have to repel any invasion of North Korea into South Korea. This was not always so. During much of the late twentieth century they needed a buffer zone between South Korea and their national border.

China has been a full participant in the international configuration which has maintained the isolation of North Korea. With their desire for a buffer zone, they can claim no moral superiority over the United States in the matter of the isolation of North Korea. China is much stronger and more confident at this time in history, and no longer needs such a buffer zone.

It is up to the United States to make the first moves to end the isolation of North Korea. We are the strong man in the area, the one the others fear. Our strength is what gives us the ability to act without trepidation at this time in history. China, now also strong, will support us in ending the isolation of North Korea. Now is the time. Let’s tear down the Berlin Wall of the East, and at last end the cold war and move into the twenty-first century.

Prenuptial Agreements

22 Oct

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2012 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

I practiced law in North Carolina for many years. I’ve published two books on divorce law and specialized in separation and divorce law for more than ten years. So the issues I’m writing about today are of great concern to me. I no longer practice law, so don’t even think of asking me for legal advice. I only work with giving advice and assistance to other lawyers upon request.

Please permit me to talk about two aspects which arise out of prenuptial agreements. The first is “A Motive for Murder.” The second is “After the Love Has Gone.”

A Motive for Murder

There is a story line that over the years has circulated around on the various television crime dramas. I’ve seen two shows already this fall which used this story line. The first was on the premiere of Eric McCormack’s crime drama Perception. In this story, a wealthy man was murdered and there are the usual suspects. It finally comes out, due to the incredible perceptual skills of the lead character, that the man’s young trophy wife had murdered him. Why did she do it?

She murdered him because she had signed a prenuptial agreement before the marriage. In the event of a separation or divorce she would receive little of the wealth of her husband. But in the event her husband died, she would receive a great deal of his wealth through his estate. But only if no one knew she’d killed him. By law a murderer cannot inherit from someone she kills. In addition, she goes to jail for a very long time. Eric McCormack finally sees through the web of deceit she’s woven to protect herself. But she almost got away with it.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract signed before the marriage of two persons, which spells out in advance who owns which assets between the two and what will happen to the financial assets of the couple in the event of a separation or death, as well as what support may be due. It’s commonly used when one person has quite a bit more wealth than the other, or where both have wealth and want to eliminate confusion about who owns what after the marriage. Regular people may want prenuptial agreements as well, as a way of protecting whatever assets they may have.

This murder story is a regular on TV crime dramas, every year, and it even extends to some novels. This story line is lame. The prenup murder story needs to be retired and put out to pasture. Here’s why. Any lawyer who drafts a prenuptial agreement which does not waive each spouse’s right in the estate of the other is committing malpractice, unless the spouses intentionally and knowingly agree to omit such a waiver of rights. The “estate” is what a person has at the time of death, which is passed on to heirs.

So, people with money usually have competent lawyers handling their legal affairs. A competent lawyer would never permit his or her client to be put in the position, in an agreement, where murder was the best option. A prenuptial agreement where the wife gets nothing at the time of a divorce but gets everything at death is almost an absurd proposition. On the TV shows where this happens, the last portion of the show should be devoted to action showing the rightful heirs suing the attorney or firm which drafted the prenuptial agreement which provided the motive for murder, for malpractice and wrongful death.

Some states may not allow a waiver of all estate rights upon the death of a spouse. States which don’t allow a full waiver of such rights in a prenuptial agreement should change their laws to eliminate this motive for murder. I do know that in New York State, where Eric McCormack’s character lives, inheritance rights can be decided in a prenuptial agreement.

One part of an estate which all states should make sure cannot be waived in a prenuptial agreement is the “widow’s allowance.” This is a short-term monthly payment from the estate which is intended to make sure the surviving spouse does not have to suffer financial ruin just after the death of the deceased spouse. Also, many states allow a “widow’s rights,” which for example in New York is a maximum of $56,000 now, which should not be waivable. After all, most surviving spouses are not murderers, even if TV takes the opposite approach.

Other countries outside the US should also make sure they have laws allowing for prenuptial agreements. These countries should also review their laws on the subject to make sure their laws do not provide a motive for murder. There’s nothing worse than giving people good reasons to kill their spouse.

I’m a believer in the sacredness of marriage and family and the home. No one should have to watch their backs when they’re in the bosom of their family. This belief also goes to the subject of spousal abuse and child abuse, which is another discussion altogether.

Prenuptial agreements are entirely appropriate where one spouse has a lot more assets than the other one, even in a first marriage. With a second or subsequent marriage, the spouse with more assets needs to make sure his children and other rightful family members are provided for without interference from a spouse.

In any situation, there may be succession issues where the wealthier spouse has a managing interest in one or more businesses. Also, any spouse of the one who has more assets is likely to be more easily welcomed into the extended family if that spouse is not perceived as being someone who will take over the assets at some point in the future. Once time has passed and trust is established, people with severe prenuptial agreements can always modify their agreements to give the less affluent spouse more latitude.

After the Love Has Gone

The other situation is when wealthy husband and his less affluent bride sign a Prenuptial Agreement which says that in the event of a separation she gets little or nothing from him. Over the years they have a good life and love each other well. Gradually, though, they fall out of love and the wife feels ignored or neglected, or feels her husband is running around on her or being abusive to her.

She knows, though, that if she leaves him she will be completely out in the cold financially, and she’s gotten accustomed to the good life. She begins to feel she has to put on a good front and continue a loveless marriage. She feels she cannot leave her husband no matter what. Things in the home become false and distant. The husband spends so much time at work that he hardly notices. This situation can go on for years. Let’s make it clear both spouses are generally good people. There are no villains, only lonely or distant human beings.

How can the spouse with the assets make sure he will not end up in a loveless crumpled marriage where his own home becomes a place of distance, after the love has gone? The answer is surprisingly simple.

The spouse with the assets should at the time of the Prenuptial Agreement or just after the marriage deposit a sum of money into an account owned solely by the other spouse. The wealthy husband should make a gift to his wife of maybe five million dollars or more, either as a part of the agreement, or just after the wedding.

He could simply transfer the money to her, in her name alone, if he feels she is savvy about money. Otherwise he could set up an investment account or trust in her name alone, with the trustees charged to invest the money for her benefit. Those with lesser assets could transfer ten thousand dollars, or whatever amount won’t harm them, to their spouse’s name.

This would be the less affluent spouse’s freedom money. In a solid marriage there would be no need for her to flee. Yet if the occasion arises where the less affluent spouse feels the need to leave the marriage, he or she wouldn’t be forced to stay by lack of funds. Or if the less affluent spouse wants to do something the other spouse doesn’t want to do with them, the money would be there for the less affluent spouse to live more freely.

This marriage of freedom is the kind of marriage where true love and mutual respect can flower more freely. Each spouse is motivated to be attentive and loving to the other if they want the family to thrive. Love conquers all.

And yes, I am a romantic sap. I want husbands and wives to love one another. And if they can’t love one another, I want to see endings where the separation is not afflicted by a complete lack of power on the part of one party. It’s much more likely that a separation and divorce will go well and without massive anxiety if the ability of each to stand on their own is enhanced.

Homage to General Nguyen Chanh Thi

29 Jul

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2012 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution. (Photo Copyright Life Magazine.)

In the late 1980’s when I was a federal government legal manager, we called together our whole staff to listen to a speech by a young black South African lawyer. This man said there was only one person who could lead South Africa out of Apartheid, and this one man was Nelson Mandela. At the time Mandela was still in prison, facing an uncertain future.

I scoffed and felt this lawyer was seriously misguided in is belief that one man could change the whole situation of governance in the hyper-charged conflict which was South Africa at the time. I felt the situation there was beyond hope, and that South Africa would end up as a torn nation. Well, as later events and a Nobel Prize proved, this young lawyer was correct, and I was wrong. Nelson Mandela succeeded in creating stability from the chaos and injustice in his nation.

Now that I know how wrong I was then, I can say that there is another great man who could have single-handedly created stability out of the chaos and injustice in his country. This man was General Nguyen Chanh Thi. His country was South Vietnam, and the year was 1966.

I was in Vietnam as a military advisor for a year ending in May of 1966. We all knew of General Thi. We knew he was the most talented general in the South Vietnamese Army. We knew he’d been offered the position of Prime Minister and turned it down. At the time we didn’t know why. Now we do know why.

To our government’s credit, they allowed General Thi to leave Vietnam in late 1966 and live in a comfortable exile in DC, and he died in peace in 2007. Even at their worst, our people knew the General was an extraordinary man, and kept him safe. He just wouldn’t toe the line on our policy of invading his country in force. A brilliant warrior, he was at heart a man of peace, not given to vengeance or jealousy.

I had the great good fortune to visit privately for almost two hours with General Nguyen Chanh Thi in 1967 at his comfortable apartment in Washington. I represented a newspaper. Even though I had been one of the invaders of his country back when, he treated me like a long lost son and his hospitality was so pleasing that I felt surrounded in a warm glow.

The article I wrote, which went out on the wire services, is now in storage in Vermont. So I don’t know what I wrote about him. I do remember that my story was entirely complimentary and was written with a sense of humility.

The United States military effectively took over full control of South Vietnam during the summer of 1965. The US government was intent on having a puppet leader who would do as he was told. General Thi would never have done as he was told, and never did do so. If he had been made Prime Minister he would likely have first insisted that US troops and their war machine leave his country, and second, he would likely have sought – slowly and from a position of strength – a peaceful reunification of the South with North Vietnam.

A million Asian lives would have been saved. Tens of thousands of American lives would have been saved, along with sparing countless wounded soldiers. Countless billions of American tax dollars would have been saved. And perhaps most importantly, General Thi would have made sure that his nation remained neutral and that there would be no escalation or spread of Communism into other countries: which was the primal fear for the American policy-makers at the time.

General Thi never got his chance to be the one man who could stabilize his country and keep it on a path toward internal national goals. The reason was that the American war machine, by late in 1966, was so stoked with its own sense of power and invincibility that the choppers and tanks rolled right over this righteous man, thus perpetuating and increasing the brutality of the War in Vietnam for many years thereafter.

Nelson Mandela was given virtually a free hand by the vested interests in South Africa. In return he protected much of the existing economic infrastructure, which he saw as necessary if South Africa was to become a modern nation. He also swore off vengeance, never allowed retribution to become an internal driving force. General Thi would likely have done the same.

Mandela’s nation, unlike General Thi’s nation, was not occupied by a huge and arrogant military force; whose policy makers believed they could use force to mow down anything in their paths; who insisted on maintaining puppet dictators in power; and who’d convinced themselves that they could “wait until later” to establish democracy in Vietnam, after all the opposition had been killed off.

What brought all these memories back to me was reading an iUniverse novel, “Diverting the Buddha,” by Bob Swartzel, which I got from Amazon.com. Every word of this novel tracks history and is written with a heart overflowing with love. He tells the story of the attempts by General Thi and the Buddhist leaders to bring democracy and peace to South Vietnam, during a time when the Americans could only dispense blood and treachery.

In this novel Bob Swartzel shows he loves Vietnam as much as I do, and shows he respects the individual American soldier as much as I do. He mourns the loss of good American men doing their best to implement a whole bundle of misguided and deceitful policies. This novel should be required reading for historians attempting to learn the lessons taught in the bloody cauldron of the Vietnam War.

Gun Control After Aurora

25 Jul

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2012 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

I can almost understand the sheltered and cosseted ladies on the television program “The View” as they were howling, after the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, that we need to restrict gun ownership and ban “assault rifles.” I’m sure they’ve never had to defend themselves from criminals in a dangerous situation. Also, at their network I’m sure they have security guards, armed with guns, looking out for their safety, and have armed guards on call at home. I hope they always stay safe, and never have to face-off unarmed with an armed person who wants to do them harm.

Even sillier, these ladies and most other anti-gun ranters don’t even know what an “assault rifle” is. For them, ignorance forms much of their basis for rampant condemnation. An “assault rifle” is by definition a hand-held weapon which can be fired as an automatic weapon or a machine gun. Modern military “assault rifles” can be switched to fire either one shot at a time, three-shot bursts, or fully automatic.

According to Wikipedia, the term “assault rifle” was coined by Adolph Hitler to describe the Maschinenpistole 43, subsequently renamed the Sturmgewehr 44, the firearm generally considered the first “assault rifle.” Before Hitler redefined the concept, the American “Tommy-Gun” was the most ubiquitous American pre-WWII hand-held machine gun.

Rifles that are only semi-automatic, firing one shot only with each pull of the trigger, are not “assault rifles.” For example, rifles such as the AR-15 are not capable of switching to automatic fire. They are fired in an identical manner as a semi- automatic pistol; each trigger pull equals one shot.

Of course, no one who wants to “ban guns” is being entirely logical, given the privileged position of the right to bear arms in our constitution. These able folks are extremely emotional in their opposition, and thus are not really qualified to lead constitutional policy debates on gun control.

No one has ever supported the mass legalization of the weapons which are strictly defined as “assault rifles.” Hand-held machine guns have been tightly regulated by the United States since the 1930’s, and not even the NRA has complained of this regulation.

After the recent Aurora, Colorado, massacre, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for greatly increased gun control laws. New York City already has some of the tightest gun control laws in the nation, yet he wants more. It’s as if in 1755 an American frontier village was attacked and sacked by the French and Indians and ten or twenty civilians were killed. Then the colonial government steps in and forcibly takes away all the weapons from the remaining frontier villagers, as a way of preventing further massacres. Good thinking, boys and girls.

I genuinely love Michael Bloomberg, and I would take a bullet for him. He is one of the great men of our time, both in his development of instant financial information, and in his management of perhaps the most watched and admired city in the world. His blind spot is that in his privileged position he has always been surrounded by men with guns, both police and bodyguards. He hasn’t ever had to worry about protecting himself individually in his home, or when he’s walked the streets.

I can guarantee you that Michael Bloomberg has, on many occasions, been in the company of bodyguards heavily armed with assault weapons and other assorted machine-guns. Consider his trips to Israel. I’m sure he received as much protection as the Prime Minister when he visited, including a battalion of guards armed to the teeth.

The degree of protection Mr. Bloomberg receives is entirely appropriate for a person in his position. His use of guards and other surrogates, armed with the latest weaponry, is not at all in dispute.

Mayor Bloomberg, though, needs to open his eyes and see what it’s like for us normal people: non-wealthy folks who, just like him, believe in and practice justice and the American Way. We don’t have armed security folks surrounding us every time we peek our heads out the door of our homes or offices, or when we go to sleep at night in our own beds. Our only source of protection from the criminals in our midst is, among other weapons, the automatic pistols and semi-automatic rifles we own legally and use responsibly.

Take a look at a family living well on a farm in Minnesota. Let’s say the husband and wife and four younger children have gone to bed, safe in their home, doors locked. At four in the morning three heavily armed gunmen launch a home invasion. If the farmer has no guns, perhaps he could swing at all three of the ugly violent men with a baseball bat. If he has a double-barrel shotgun and a bolt-action rifle, he can likely get off a few shots, maybe kill one of the men before he and his family are massacred and the thieves make off with all the silver settings and other valuables.

With a semi-automatic pistol or rifle, carrying high-capacity clips of ammunition, the farmer has at least a fighting chance of staying alive and keeping his family safe. What is even more important, though, is that if those three criminals want to rob houses, and they don’t know who is armed with effective weapons and who is not, they are less likely to carry out their criminal activities. When honest citizens are armed randomly, the chance of crimes against the person is greatly reduced.

The scenario of the farmer is a bit extreme, yet it is really no different for any law-abiding family or individual living in any house or apartment anywhere in this country. We practice our weapons skills, hoping we’ll never be called on to fire a shot at another human being. Yet we will be ready, willing, and able to defend ourselves and those we love in the highly unlikely event of a confrontation with a criminal.

The rest of us don’t have phalanxes of bodyguards like Michael Bloomberg; or armed security guards on duty at work, and on call at our homes, like the ladies of The View. We have to protect ourselves. And we are willing and able to do so. Don’t take our most effective means of self-defense.

And I’m not even touching upon the other reason for able-bodied men and women to own their own effective weapons. We, you and I, are the Militia which will, if need be, pour into the streets throughout the nation, to protect our country and our president from any invasion or armed overthrow by those who might seek illegitimate power. It’s in the constitution. The Founding Fathers were concerned enough to see the need for an armed populace as a basic part of our freedom. Can we the people carry out this constitutional task of citizens, with such severe limitations on the types of weapons we can have at our disposal?

The Big Split

11 Jul

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2012 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

I was truly inspired by the way Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes handled their recent separation. Remember that I spent years as a family lawyer. I know the difference between a good and a bad split. Theirs was a good split.

Bad splits involve either money or children. Fights over money may be hard on the separating spouses, yet they’re both consenting adults, and money has no soul of its own. The very worst fights are those over children, who have sensitive souls and are in no way able to consent to what their parents are doing.

There are many couples who love each other, or care deeply about each other, and still decide to end their marriages. I’d put Tom and Katie into this category. They seemed more than anything to have grave differences in their philosophies of life.

They could have fought for years about the huge sums of money they both legitimately have. It takes a TON of respect and cooperation for two adults to avoid the need to fight like cats and dogs over the sums at issue between them.

In this way, though, they’re not very different than any other separating couple. Even if the net assets of the marriage are only ten thousand dollars, that ten thousand means as much to that couple as the hundreds of millions mean to TomKat.

I’ve seen couples fight viciously over small sums of money, because those small sums are what they have and all they have and their asset split will decide how they will live after separation. Usually only one of the two is being unreasonable (read: the one who was not my client). Occasionally, though, both are unreasonable and out of control (read: I tried my best to control my client).

However much the love of money may be the root of all evil, though, the love of children can be the root of the most damaging and long lasting evils when two people end their marriage. Again it is important to stress the obvious: children who are underage do not get to consent or decide on a separation, and they are the ones who bear the ongoing stress of a custody battle. TomKat obviously knew this elementary fact, and refused to engage in the stressful and largely unnecessary behavior played out in a knock-down-drag-out custody battle.

Of course there are times when one parent is either unstable or totally unreasonable (read: not my client), and the other parent (read: my innocent and long-suffering client) is forced to defend in court against the sometimes barbaric, or even simply unreasonable, demands of an unfit spouse.

As always, in most separations both of the spouses love their children deeply. In most of these situations a solution is worked out for the children without an unnatural level of conflict, and the children become the winners, which is as it should be, now and always, world without end.

In many situations there is a high potential for conflict over the custody of the children, yet both parents are interested in acting in the best interests of the children. Sometimes these conflict bursts into the open, sometimes they are muted and of short duration, and sometimes the conflicts are resolved privately and without involving the children. The most common outcome in such potential conflict situations is a muted conflict of short duration.

Let’s say both the husband and the wife intensely desire to have custody of the children, and their desire includes a love for the children. A potential conflict is thus present. These matters often are resolved when both parents put up a fight, yet in the end one of the parents declines to fight a blood-battle and the children go to the other parent.

These situations are thus resolved with the wisdom of Solomon: the claimant who doesn’t want to see the child cut in half demonstrates real love for the children. This is not to say the other parent is lacking in love for the children: the low-conflict parent, by taking this path, is explicitly recognizing that the prevailing parent does love the children and is a fit and proper person to have custody of them.

The low-conflict parent is acting out of genuine love and respect, and ends up working in the best interests of the children, even if by doing so the parent is losing something extremely valuable in the process. What the low conflict parent is losing is the primary right to have the children live with them, and this parent is also likely to have to pay child support. This is a very difficult choice, yet probably a necessary choice if the children are to have the best possible life with both parents after the divorce.

When divorces involving minor children proceed from the principle of loving the children, the world will always be a better place even though a divorce is a terrible thing for anyone to undertake.

Even if no children are involved, or where a husband and wife with children have the choice of facing off against each other, there is a principle involved. The inevitable trauma to the primary parties to the divorce will be lighter if each spouse recognizes the past shared love which most likely once existed, and may still exist even in the throes of the separation. And also recognize that the money and other possessions are less important than the future satisfaction and emotional health of the one we once loved.