LAST Friday's column by Christine Flowers raises huge issues, but in effect boils down to one question: Should a married couple stay married for the sake of the children?
As a seasoned, veteran family/divorce attorney for many years (I am no longer in private practice), I have tried divorce cases, domestic-violence cases and custody cases, representing husbands and wives equally. And, for the sake of full disclosure, I have been through a divorce and custody trial personally. There is an old adage among attorneys that criminal-defense attorneys see the worst people at their best and divorce attorneys see the best people at their worst. Unfortunately there is more than a little truth in that statement.
I believe that family lawyers have an obligation to explore the possible "saving" of a marriage when initially contacted by a prospective divorce client, but I also believe that "happiness" is a relative term. I am unfamiliar with any statistical support for Nora Ephron's position that, absent child abuse and/or spouses beating each other up, kids are better off if their parents are together. If Ms. Flowers' point is, as I believe it is, that couples should think long and hard when weighing their own "happiness" against their children's well-being, I agree wholeheartedly. However, I believe that a lifetime of showing children disrespect, coldness and even hate between a husband and wife does them no favors. If the choice is to stay together under circumstances just described or divorce with both parents taking the high road in all respects, I can't help but think that the children will fare more favorably under the latter scenario.
For all the years since Ronald Reagan allowed con men such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to practically run our Congress and tamper with our supposedly pristine system of selecting judges for the courts, their organizations were allowed to maintain their 501(c)(3) tax-free status. And all the while not a peep of outrage from one single Republican, while these basically political organizations received nothing more than a wink from the IRS.
But now, all of a sudden the Republicans want to express their selective indignation because the Internal Revenue Service allegedly went over requests from conservative organizations to ascend to tax-free status with a fine-tooth comb? And what are the anti-government conservatives doing anyway, coming to the federal government, hat in hand, to be subsidized by the rest of us taxpayers?