Applying Lessons from the Godfather Movie to Divorces – “Nothing personal, just business”

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2012 | Divorce

Oh if I could only get my clients to absorb and reflect on one of the most famous lines from “The Godfather” – “Nothing personal, just business.” The fact of the matter is -most of what goes on in divorces, after the parties have agreed to go their separate ways and file for divorce, is about business, or money, if you will. Any divorce lawyer that does a semblance of divorce cases knows that after the initial filings the fights are usually about money – be it alimony pendent elite, child support or equitable distribution of assets. However, the same lawyers also know that the vast majority of the clients believe its all personal, which leads to greater acrimony between the parties, causing more fights, less productive negotiations and, as a result, more fees.

The saying itself says it all. If I hurt you, it’s not because I don’t like you, it’s because I am trying to gain a competitive business advantage. In fact, the statement was used by Corleone henchman Tessio to Michael after he was caught selling out the family to one of the rival families. As Tessio is led away, knowing the end is near, Tessio tells Tom Haden, the family lawyer, “tell Michael it was nothing personal – just business.” The problem is, in divorces, the spouses don’t believe that the other spouse is attempting to save a buck or make a dollar – they believe the other spouse is out to hurt them.

Maybe, just maybe, if the parties didn’t take the moves and procedural dynamics of their opposing spouse as being personal, the divorce could get done quicker and more smoothly, resulting in fewer fees. Then, each party keeps more. Now, that’s good business. We all know no one likes fighting – “fighting is expensive”, but that’s a lesson for my next “Godfather” blog.

For advice regarding a divorce or related matter, please contact my Pittsburgh law firm, Gusty Sunseri & Associates, P.C..


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