When I tell people I am a family lawyer, I usually hear “oh you must have seen some things” or “you must deal with a lot of fights.” True, I have seen some crazy things happen in court. I have also watched people tear their family apart in long, drawn out court battles. But I also witnessed many couples leaving my office or the courtroom without the scars of battle and the pains of going through an expensive, contested divorce. It is those situations that I feel the best about.
Divorce does not have to be a war.
If you have children, you want to be able to be in the same room as your former spouse. There will be birthday parties, graduations, weddings, etc. that you will both attend. Your children will appreciate not having to worry about who to include into their celebrations and how to keep you separated from your spouse for fear of a fight. Having a knock-down, dragged out fight of a divorce will make it difficult for you and your spouse to co-parent.
The reality is most divorces do not end in a trial. Approximately 97% of divorce cases are settled BEFORE there is a trial. Since most cases settle, isn’t easier for everyone to cooperate and work out a settlement that is favorable for both parties. Knowing that it is extremely likely that there will not be a trial, it does not make sense to “fight” everything out.
No one truly wins in a litigated divorce battle. Most times both parties come out of those situations feeling they lost. How is that winning?
Highly litigated, contested divorces cost A LOT of money. Even a case without a lot of complex issues can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you and your spouse are fighting about your children, that can almost double your costs. And these costs are just the attorneys and other experts fees. It does not include the financial losses as a result of time out of work, depreciation of assets, etc.
I once saw a couple spend thousands of dollars arguing over an item that they agreed was purchased for about $150. Seems silly to spend a couple of thousand dollars over something that cost a fraction of their attorney’s fees. In a divorce battle, unfortunately common sense does not prevail.
Fortunately, there are some attorneys out there who are trained as mediators and collaborative divorce attorneys. These attorneys can assist parties in making better decisions in how they divorce. Mediation and collaborative divorce are not necessarily all friendly. Some can be heated and arguments can break out. The difference is these types of dispute resolution are supportive to the parties and help them get past these flair ups. Mediators and collaborative team members provide the parties with the tools to assist them in resolving their differences during their divorce and beyond.
At the end of the day, whether you battle it out or you work together to come to a resolution, you will be divorced. You need to decide do you want to risk everything in a fight where no one truly wins or do you want to come out of it feeling that things will be OK and you and your children will be able to move on in a positive way.