People have this idea that their spouse’s bad behaviour may entitle them to a better result in family court; they think that they deserve to be compensated because their spouse cheated, or was abusive, or was the one who ended the relationship.
But the truth is, the “blame game” has no role in family law.
Why? Because the court does not play referee. Instead, the court is tasked with trying to help you move on with your life, and settle the issues you and your spouse cannot settle on your own. Courts do not “punish” bad behavior, nor look to blame either of the parties for what they did, or didn’t do in a relationship.
Truthfully, the “blame game” is counter-productive to settlement. It’s going to get you nowhere in terms of resolving your family law matter.
But, you might still ask… what about the spouse who leaves the relationship? Shouldn’t that spouse be criticized for not trying to work things out? Shouldn’t that spouse be blamed and burdened with the end of the relationship? No, no, and definitely no.
I’ll give you an example: think about a spouse who is being horribly abused by the other, what if the abused spouse finally gathers the courage to leave. Should that abused spouse be punished for leaving that relationship? Definitely not, right?! So, where do we draw the line? When is it ok to leave your spouse? Why should we even care? That’s why I tell my clients not to dwell or focus on the blame game – it doesn’t matter which spouse left the relationship, and it doesn’t matter whether one spouse was better behaved throughout the relationship.
Instead, I urge my clients to focus on “entitlement.” That’s what the law is about. At the end of a relationship (be it a marriage or a common-law relationship), both parties/spouses have certain rights and obligations. And so, it is always more productive to focus on that.
Now, I should mention that adultery and abuse can play a role in child custody and parenting. But that is another topic for another day…