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10-year marriage; 17-year divorce. Who? A pair of law professors

The case of two divorced law professors has become perhaps the most infamous domestic relations case in the state of Ohio, and now it’s making national news. As a judge pointed out last month, each is an officer of the court who should behave in a manner consistent with the proper administration of justice, yet “each has more than pushed the envelope with regard to abusing the court system,” only adding to the acrimony of their divorce, co-parenting and post-divorce litigation.

That litigation has already lasted 17 years -- and it’s not over. Their marriage, by contrast, only lasted 10 years.

“There has been no spite. I wanted to father my children,” said the ex-husband, a University of Cincinnati law professor. “I have not seen this as ego-driven. I have not seen this as revenge-motivated.”

Yet, at one point he reportedly owed some $80,000 in unpaid child support, which required garnishment of his wages to resolve.

The ex-wife, now teaching in Kentucky, didn’t comment for a recent Cincinnatti.com article. She, too, seems to believe the litigation has been in the best interests of the couple’s children, now 17 and 20. However, she has been accused of siccing the police on her ex-husband at work -- more than once.

Child custody has also been a major source of litigation. According to Cincinnatti.com, the mother lost custody when she tried to move out of state with the kids -- without court permission. The father, in turn, lost custody when he allegedly tried to enroll their son in an out-of-state boarding school in direct violation of a court order.

The divorce itself took five years, and involved more than 1,400 court file entries -- about 1,000 more than the average, six-to-nine-month divorce. Since then there have been at least 28 post-divorce litigation cases, including two that were appealed to, and rejected by, the state supreme court.

An appellate court rebuked the pair, saying, “The parties, who are both law professors and who ought to know better, engaged in thoroughly inappropriate behavior that was detrimental to the resolution of their case and to the welfare of their children for which both claimed to be primarily concerned.”

Considering that rebuke came nine years ago, it does not seem to have been effective.

Next month, the couple’s latest bout will go to court. The ex-husband is suing the ex-wife over money she allegedly owes, and other issues remain to be resolved.

Divorce -- and the time afterward -- can be acrimonious even if you’re not a lawyer. Before you engage in decades of litigation, ask yourself: is this how you want to spend your time?

Source: Cincinnati.com, "Court calls law profs' 17-year divorce fight 'appalling'," Kimball Perry, Aug. 12, 2013

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