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California divorce shows how asset division can get nasty

When someone thinks of divorce, it is hard to avoid the images of love turned to animosity and emotional threats leading to contentious fights over the silverware or frequent-flyer miles. Much of this effect is lent to divorce by movies and television; however, because the actual processes of working out who gets what during and after separation does not have to be so difficult or dramatic.

A high-asset divorce playing out in Orange County is adding some more color to a sensational view of ending a marriage. A billionaire couple's separation involved conflicts over homes, valuable pieces of art, cars and pets. The anxiety did not end with the marriage last year, as both former spouses have accused each other of violating the terms of the decree. The drama even interfered with their charitable foundation, almost holding up vital year-end grants.

Friends and family have noticed some common themes in the couple's disputes. After three decades together, each person is skilled in aggravating the other, according to some observers. Each former spouse describes the other as vindictive, breaking into fights over the custody arrangements of cats and the fear of violence from the other.

Others have also been affected by the argument, from personal assistants to people who relied on the couple's investment expertise for success. "I have done nothing to deserve this," said an employee of the former husband.

Inner calm and patience are two valuable allies for people considering divorce, as several options exist for an orderly separation of assets into two new and whole lives. An attorney can help recommend collaborative divorce, mediation or another constructive way of ending a marriage.

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