The following article has been around for over 10 years, but its message is so powerful that we wanted to share it on our blog.
In 2001, Judge Michael Haas presided over a difficult and particularly nasty divorce case. He felt that the two parties were so angry with one another that they were neglecting what was most important in their lives, which was their children.
In a final judgment to the parties, Haas crafted one of the more memorable statements in family court history.
“Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is your problem and your fault.
No matter what you think of the other party—or what your family thinks of the other party—these children are one-half of each of you. Remember that, because every time you tell your child what an “idiot” his father is, or what a “fool” his mother is, or how bad the absent parent is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child half of him is bad.
That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is not love. That is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions.
I sincerely hope that you do not do that to your children. Think more about your children and less about yourselves, and make yours a selfless kind of love, not foolish or selfish, or your children will suffer.”
Family Law Attorney Katie Lammers comments
Judge Haas’ words of wisdom to divorcing parents have been widely circulated and quoted in blogs, legal journals and even court cases. I think they serve as a blunt reminder about who the biggest losers in divorce can be—the kids.
Divorcing parents face many emotions throughout the divorce process: fear, anger, betrayal, loss and confusion to name a few. It can be hard to “be the adult” and take the high road with all of these emotions swirling around, but this advice is a great reminder of what’s at stake if you don’t.
Heimerl & Lammers
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