"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like
a woman scorned," wrote the English playwright, William Congreve
in his play,
The Mourning Bride.
And speaking of the fury of a woman scorned, who can easily forget Betty
Broderick versus her adulterous husband Dan Broderick? Although it happened
almost 20 years ago, the story still resonates with anybody with knowledge
of how badly a
divorce can go. To be certain, the
Broderick case is an epic example of cruelty and self-inflicted tragedy. One wonders
how two adults could voluntarily engage in such a lengthy, complex and
acrimonious divorce; one so vicious that it gained national notoriety
as the ugliest of ugly divorces and eventually ended with a tragic murder
of Dan Broderick and his second wife.
The erstwhile Mrs. Broderick claimed Battered Women's Syndrome. She
got as far as a second trial (the first one ended in a hung jury) and
is now serving 32 years in California Institution for Woman in Corona,
The truth is there are many ugly divorces. An injured party will seek redemption
in a court system that will eventually find their cheating husband or
wife at fault for the dissolution of their marriage and the demise of
their happiness. But thankfully, few ever reach the tumult of the Broderick case.
It's astounding how many people do not realize that California is a
"No Fault" divorce state. What this means is that the spouse
asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did
something wrong. Nor does the court system punish in any way the party
in a divorce who has an affair with less property or more pay support
because of the affair.
Instead, the court will divide all community property 50-50. The State
Bar of California has an online pamphlet entitled
What Should I know about Divorce and Custody. This is a great start at educating yourself on Divorce in California.
For a deeper read on the Broderick case, I recommend Bryna Taubman's book
Hell Hath No Fury (2004, ISBN 0312929382) for an up-close perspective on Ms Broderick's
defense or Bella Stumbo's
Until the Twelfth of Never (1993, ISBN 0671726668) for a more balanced reflection on the entire case.