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Walking the Line Between Marriage and Divorce: Maintaining Respect for Your Ex—Good Advice for Folks in North Carolina.

By Dana Horlick, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group

Even a productive and long-lived marriage can end in divorce. Just ask Jane Seymour and James Keach. The celebrity couple, known for their acting roles and producing, were married for 22 years and separated in 2013. At the end of 2015, Seymour and Keach filed a divorce settlement splitting the assets accumulated over the span of their marriage 50/50.

The former couple have openly stated that they respect each other, will work together to raise their two children, and continue to be active with their Open Hearts Foundation. If a marriage must end in divorce, it seems like Seymour and Keach have found the ideal path to follow after its demise. Continuing to respect your former partner may be a struggle, especially if your divorce was acrimonious and difficult, but it is important to maintain that level of dignity and decorum, especially when there are children involved. Having children together is a lifetime commitment, and it appears that the former couple has not only recognized that fact, but has also embraced it.

A failing marriage can produce many arguments and struggles. Through it all, however, both individuals need to consider in deciding child custody what is in the best interests of their children. This is paramount, not only in parents’ personal lives, but also before the court, should there be extensive litigation. The court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child when making any decision that affects the child, particularly custody. When there are children born of the marriage, it is especially important to have an experienced family law attorney at your side, ensuring that the court really does make the decision that is in the best interests of the children.

It may seem like the divorce of a celebrity couple is so different from what you are going through that the lessons aren’t worth learning. Seymour and Keach’s divorce settlement splitting a home in Malibu, an estate in England, a Country Club membership, and season tickets to the L.A. Dodgers might not seem to have anything in common with your situation. Whether many assets were accumulated during the course of your long marriage, or your marriage quickly ended in divorce with little to no marital assets to divide, the lesson of respect and civility matters and is important. Take note of positive examples to lead your behavior, so as not to have a prior relationship degenerate into constant arguments and stress.

At this difficult point in your life, when your marriage – that you never though would end – is coming to a close, it may be frustrating to hear this advice. It is still important to take into consideration how your actions towards your ex-spouse will affect your children. Growing up with two parents that hate each other and argue all the time is not healthy for any child. That level of antagonism also is not healthy for you personally. Who needs the extra stress after the difficult process of divorce? It probably will be hard, but focus on the positives and respect your ex.