You know these people – the ones who weigh every relationship, every opportunity, as an opportunity to “get” more. We’ll call them the Takersons. A Takerson has two friends, one owns a boat; the other does not. One Saturday evening the Takersons have dinner plans with their non-boat friends. Everyone has hired babysitters, arranged their plans, and made the appropriate reservations. Everyone is getting ready to go out. The Takersons get a last-minute phone call from their boat friends, “Our plans tonight just got canceled. Are you busy? Want to come over?”
Obviously there are a few available responses at that moment, such as, “Thanks for the call – we’ll have to take a rain check because we already have plans.” Or, “We have dinner plans with other friends, but the more the merrier – why don’t you join us?” Or, “Depending on what you have in mind, would there be room for 2 couples; we were already planning to see our other friends.” Or, the standard Takersons response, “Yes. We will just tell our friends that something better came up.”
Well, in my experience, when Takersons get divorced, things are not much different. If there are two televisions, some people might say, “We each get one.” Others will say, “You take the newer one,” or even “I’ll keep the newer one.” But a Takerson says, “I’ll need both, you can go buy your own.”
Takersons say sentences like, “I’m sure your mother intended for me to keep the engagement ring when she gave it to you for me,” and “If I don’t end up using the lawn tools I can always sell them later,” and “Child support is one thing, but you will still have to pay for the kids’ shoes and clothes and haircuts. I can’t pay for that stuff out of my money.”
Sometimes Takersons even stay married for surprising reasons. “I hate that S.O.B., but if we get divorced, I would have to get a job to make ends meet,” or “If we get divorced while her parents are still alive, I might be cut out of my share of their estate.”
To me, the best part about watching a Takerson in action is the moment of revelation (when it comes) at the end of a long strenuous and expensive battle, over something like a flat screen TV. I do not always have the opportunity to do this, but when I can, I like to analyze the cost-benefit ratios. Such, as a new TV would have cost you $800. The motion you filed to keep it cost your attorney three hours, plus your wife’s attorney three hours. So that comes to $ 1500 in out-of-pocket costs. Add in the fact that the time spent in court keeps both of you out of work for the day.” No matter who wins that argument – whoever gets to keep the TV – there is a net loss to the family of money, time, and good will.
In fact, this is a somewhat minor example. I have seen people fight about an engagement ring, including two court hearings, (and the papers and preparation time necessary for those two hearings) trips to two jewelry appraisers, and the result in which a jeweler had to be hired to remove the stone from its setting. One party kept the setting, the other kept the stone, and had to make an additional payment to balance the cost of the stone. So, the wife’s cost of keeping “her” setting, and fighting over her ex-mother-in-law’s diamond cost her approximately $7500. The cost of keeping his mother’s stone cost the husband around $10,000. The attorneys made a combined profit of $15,000.
A simpler solution might have been for the husband to say, “Here is $5000 in cash – go buy yourself a ring that you like and let me keep my mother’s ring.” Even a Takerson would be compelled to say yes in that situation!
What We Love: Even if the person you are divorcing is the greediest person in the world, look at the bright side – at least you won’t be married for much longer!
– Sharon Oberst DeFala