It’s been over seven years since I was married, but every time someone I know, or someone I work with starts down the road to divorce for the first time, it’s like watching someone about to get into a fireant bed without knowing anything about the creatures. Fireants are an invasion species of ant native to South America who arrived here in the 1930’s. They are tiny but terribly aggressive and they pack one hell of a sting. They attack en masses, and release a chemical to let the other ants know when to all start firing off the venom. More than a hundred people a year are killed by fireants in The South each year, but I’m betting they are still more enjoyable than a divorce.
When you realize you have fireants on you there is always the off chance you’ve gotten away from them before there are hundreds of them one you, and if you’re lucky there will be one a dozen or so, but it could be you’ve been standing on a nest of them and haven’t realized it. There is the feeling of pain and you know what it is as soon as they start, and then there is that feeling like none other. You know you’re going to have one hell of a time getting the fireants off of you, because they latch onto your skin and sting and sting and sting, and you have to wipe them off, swat them off, stomp your feet to dislodge them, and all the while they’re doing their best to kill you.
If you get far enough away from wasps or bees they will stop chasing you, and leave you alone. Bees can only sting you once anyway. Hornets, now there’s an insect to fear, but when it comes right down to it, you can see them very well. Fireants are tiny. But that make up for it by being suicidal in their aggressiveness, and relentless in their attacks. One moment you’re standing barefoot in the grass and then you’re doing what resembles some sort of rain dance performed by someone stricken by epilepsy while peeing on an electric fence. It doesn’t matter if you’re near a nest or not. There could be one lone fireant out foraging for food, and you’re it.
People going through divorce turn into fireants sometimes and I lay this at the feet of divorce law in general and divorce lawyers in particular. The way it ought to work, is that everyone takes everything they have worked for, and divide that which was mutually earned, and then everyone goes their separate way, wiser for the experience.
The reality of the situation is the lawyers will sit down and ask their clients, “How much do you have?” and then the two lawyers know how much they can earn from the ordeal, and the proceed from there. Like fireants, divorce lawyers do not care what gets in the way as long as they can sting and bite their way forward, ever forward, and there is never any sense of a symbiotic relationship of everyone getting something out the deal. You will be left with that the better lawyer didn’t take from you and yours, and everyone else will wind up with less.
It’s an infectious mentality much like someone taking down the walls of a house and the two people inside divide up what’s left by throwing what they can into a truck before the other person gets a chance to grab anything, but the truck gets to keep 90% of what’s in it. You know you’re already taking a loss from what the lawyer is getting, and he’ll be the first to tell you that win lose or draw he’s going to get paid, so you have to go out and squeeze harder, and so does the other person, and it’s no longer the end of a marriage but the beginning of a death do us part war.
It’s hard as hell to kill fireants. The best way is to take the biggest pot you can find in your kitchen and boil water in it, and then pour the boiling water on the fireant mound. No, I am not suggesting you do this to your future former’s divorce lawyer, or your own, but the imagery can be enjoyed somewhat. If you’ve ever been attacked by fireants, and if you live in The South and haven’t been you’re enclosed in a bubble or you just plain taste bad, the idea of boiling a fireant mound has great appeal. The next day, those that survived will be bringing out the dead, and you could, if you wanted, scoop them up with a tablespoon. It takes several treatments like this to kill a mound, and while you’re killing off this one mound three more have sprung up behind you. You might think about that before you attack a divorce lawyer with a pot of boiling water; they are making them faster than you can cook them.
A friend of mine going through a divorce is discovering lawyers are going to wind up with more than he, and his soon to be ex-wife is going to wind up with what’s left of that. Like getting into a large mound of fireants, he cannot get them off of him, and he’s being stung all the while. His lawyer, who is practically useless here because there are children involved, is allowing the process to drag out slowly, to get his pound of flesh, and you would think there would be a way out of all this without so many lives being ruined.
Fireants don’t care. They do not care that you’re going to get hurt and that you haven’t done anything wrong, and they don’t care if you’re going to go through a lot of pain and suffering, and they don’t really care if about anything other than biting and stinging, and making sure things continue on this way.
The difference between a divorce lawyer and a fireant is one is a mindless stinging insect bent on nothing but pain and suffering and the other is a fireant.