27 Feb Finding the Path of Peace in Divorce Wherever Possible
Over the years practicing family law, I’ve just about seen it all – from sublimity to depravity, inspirational to deplorable, to the downright bizarre. There’s even the occasional drama free, amicable divorce. While the months leading up to it probably weren’t a sunlit stroll, such outcomes are models of conciliation and respect. These outcomes, of course, depend upon both parties showing up prepared to cooperate. If either bends to belligerence, good will evaporates and contested, often unpleasant divorce ensues. As an attorney who’s both promoted mediation and represented single parties in agitated brawls, peaceful divorce is a breath of fresh air for attorneys and judges alike. Most people get that, but cool heads don’t always prevail.
Divorce Court or Mediation?
Attorneys strive to know and present the facts. So here’s one for you: Litigated divorces are 7 times more likely to be relitigated again than cases resolved through mediation. Relitigating a case years on is something nobody relishes. It’s painful, it’s not private and it’s expensive. While avoiding a contested divorce is often preferred, it’s not always possible. Some people want to fight, others need to – especially in cases where one parent is unfit for custody or visitation but argues otherwise.
Family Law Practice Priority: Family-First Approach
I take a family-first approach. That means I seek compromise where it is to be had to ensure the most reasonable and sustainable outcome for all parties. And we must remember, the collaterally-damaged innocents in these scenarios are children. I advocate for the soundest solutions possible for dividing custody, visitation, pets, debts, assets and property. When at all possible, it’s not about vanquishing the opponent, it’s about livable, healthy outcomes for all.
Working in various capacities in family law affords me valuable perspective that I can share with folks at marital terminus. Sometimes sharing a bit of (anonymized) shock-value stories is all the persuasion parting couples need to harmonize one last time in mediation and avoid divorce court. Then I simply pursue the most favorable resolution for both individuals as a team. When divorce is contested, I represent the interests of one party. And that’s often where the not-so-happy tales in my collection of misguided matrimony come from.
We’ve heard of the horror stories of an ex buying the house next door to other’s out of spite or jealously, or heads snipped out of family photos. The pain associated with marriage dissolution can be overwhelming, so people act erratically. Such things can make for interesting stories after the fact, but do little more than undermine the process. When children are in the mix, self-control is critical. Beyond the trauma, acting out goes a long way towards precluding practical co-parenting in the future. Acceptance, patience and good faith are all in short supply at the time of divorce, but precisely what’s so sorely needed.