A recent story in the Cincinnati Enquirer discussed the now infamous Ohio divorce case of Christo and Sharlene Lassiter. The two were married back in 1986 and had 10 relatively happy years together. Since then, the couple has spent 17 years bogged down in a never-ending divorce battle, a process that has lasted nearly twice as long as the marriage itself.
How can this be you might be asking? It turns out the two are both law professors and know enough about court procedure and Ohio family law to drag a case out. Experts that were interviewed about the case say that Cincinnati family law attorneys know the case by heart. Some judges have come out against the couple, lambasting them for making a mockery of the legal profession and arguing that the two ought to be ashamed of their behavior.
Ohio family law experts who were interviewed for the story almost all agreed that a typical divorce where there were no children could be wrapped up in several months. A contentious case with child custody and visitation issues might take up to a year. The Lassiters took more than five years to sign their divorce papers and have since spent another 12 years arguing over various components of their divorce, filing at least 28 separate actions against one another during that time.
According to the Enquirer article, the divorce file between the parties contains nearly 1,400 separate entries, more than 1,000 more than a typical divorce file would have. Almost everything that could go wrong in the divorce has gone wrong. The Lassiters have called the police on one another multiple times and both parties have had and then lost custody of their two children. Each believes the other is out for revenge and the two have used the court system as a tool to exact this revenge for nearly two decades.
Judges in the area have shown that they are over the fight, appearing to show little sympathy for either party. Judges have said, “both parties have behaved in an appalling manner.” In a Court of Appeals case, one judge said that Mrs. Lassiter showed “unrelenting hostility” towards her former husband and “flatly refused to obey court orders.” Another judge wrote that because both parties are law professors they ought to know better than to behave in a way that is not only harmful to their case, but also incredibly damaging to their children. A judge from Cincinnati wrote that the State Bar should admonish the pair and noted that it was frightening to imagine law students learning from their horrible example.
Though a case as contentious and long lasting as the Lassiter’s is thankfully rare, it serves as a good example of the problems Ohio couples should strive to avoid. Try and keep hurt feelings and vendettas out of your divorce. Making the matter about retribution only costs everyone in the long run, especially your children, and does little to help your case.
Source: “Court calls law profs' 17-year divorce fight 'appalling',” by Kimball Perry, Cincinnati.com.
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