Chicago billionaires Ken & Anne Griffin are getting a divorce, but it doesn’t have to get ugly!

Chicago billionaires Ken & Anne Griffin are getting a divorce, but it doesn’t have to get ugly!

Chicago billionaires Ken & Anne Griffin are getting a divorce, but it doesn’t have to get ugly! You would have to be living under a rock to not have noticed at least one story about this break up:  articles have appeared first in Crains and then in other sources: Sneed's column in the Sun-Times here,  and the New York Times article here.

Even in the most amicable divorce, there are steps that each couple must take to be granted the  divorce order.  In every divorce, someone must file  the case in the courthouse to get the process rolling:  then if there is not  a settlement, there will be a trial where someone will win and someone will lose.  Following the trial, one or both parties can appeal the decision. This process can go on for years.

Some folks have called divorce litigation "war", and the opponents prepare as if it were a real one. And this is true.

Divorce litigation is very expensive, yet some couples can't seem to avoid it.  Why? In some cases, because one party's unreasonableness forces the other into  litigation.  The motivation for seeking a trial could be for revenge, vindication or "opportunity to crush" the less moneyed spouse, or one or both parties do not know that there is a better, less costly way to resolve the dispute. Unfortunately courts do not understand when one person might have a personality disorder that prevents him or her from being reasonable and fighting to the death.  I hope that neither or you are in this category.

Mr. and Mrs. Griffin, you seem to be smart, lovely and generous to the city of Chicago.  But if  your lawyers have not already explained the realities of litigation, let me explain from my perspective, a reluctant veteran of divorce wars.

Advice from a reluctant veteran of divorce wars:

The true costs of divorce litigation are many:

1. Your time  to prepare for trial, time away from your companies,  and lost--let me repeat-- lost -- opportunities.

2. Distractions: Even when you are not preparing for a deposition, at a deposition, meeting with your lawyers, at court hearings and on and will be thinking about this.

3. Damage will be inflicted on your relationship with each other.  You have young children and  many years ahead where  you will need to work together to be sure that they grow up to be normal human beings. At the end of this, your children will want for nothing materially.  What they really deserve are parents who act in their best interests.  A corollary to this is that you should treat each other with fairness and not as some business rival who deserves to be crushed.  If you are horrible to the mother [or father] of your children, you harm your children.

4. The cost of divorce litigation may seem insignificant to you but whatever you spend on lawyers, experts, court reporters, etc., is just that much less you have for your children, charities--even  a vacation to get away for the "war."

Consider using an expert mediator, such a retired divorce court judges, Karen Shields or Michele Lowrance.  Both have seen it all and have excellent reputations as mediators.

There is also something call divorce arbitration, akin to a private divorce trial.  The arbitrator would be a divorce lawyer/retired judge who have gone through special training.  See this list for those qualified in Illinois.


Good me anytime you want some more free advice!  I will be watching the news and hoping that I don't see your story in it any more!


Between blog posts, I tweet divorce news and stories at @DivorceChicagoS

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