The last place you want to be heading when trying to get a divorce is to the local courthouse. Going to court will let a stranger, usually called a judge or judicial officer, who doesn’t know you or your family, make some of the most critical decisions in your life. You can learn how to avoid court in a divorce.
Court is stressful
The stress of going to court can be awful. Having to wait for your case to be called after 30 or so other families have been before the judge is not fun.
The stress alone of having your life played out before a courtroom of strangers is enough to make some experience extreme anxiety.
Once you go to court, whether it is for a hearing or a trial, you lose control of your lives, and the lives of your children, if custody is an issue.
The lingering hostility between you and your soon-to-be-former spouse can rip a hole in your heart. Your family may never recover; it can leave scars on your children that last forever.
Most of all, you do not want a stranger in a black robe deciding some of the most intimate issues in your life. You do not want a stranger telling you where your children will live, how much time you can spend with your children and then deciding all of your financial issues.
Once you head off to court, you lose all control over your life and the lives of your children. There are much better options available.
Going to court should be your last option. Try to avoid it like the plague.
But how can you avoid going to court? Doesn’t everyone go to court to end their divorce?
What’s wrong with going to court?
Litigation can be a devastating way to deal with conflict in your family. Basically, litigation is an adversarial process where one side tries to beat the other side.
Winning is the object of litigation. During and after litigation, the parties can have harsh feelings towards each other. Those bad feelings can linger for years as the parties try to get on with their lives.
But in the case of family litigation, those bad feelings can linger, preventing parents from being good parents to their children. Instead of thinking about the well-being of their children first, each parent may try to get back at the other. Inevitably, they will make bad decisions.
Perhaps they will put their kids in the middle of their fight. Or they can alienate their child from the other parent, usually by speaking negatively about the other parent.
In other words, litigation is not a friendly practice.
Do you really want a stranger in a black robe who doesn’t know anything about you, your children or your family making significant decisions for you?
Judges are caught between two sides, each claiming to possess a different view of what the “truth’ is. How are they to decide when the parties seem to be honest and they have vastly different opinions of what actually happened?
The judge didn’t see what happened. So, they may try to find a middle grounder both of you—a decision that may make you both equally angry.
Anytime you have children, you will need to deal with the other parent for years, perhaps forever. You will see them at soccer games, graduations, weddings and any important event in your child’s life.
That’s a lot of time. In addition, if they are young children, you must agree on times and places to transfer the kids and how to deal with them when emergencies come up.
In a trial or hearing about your kids, the judge is not restricted to accepting one of your options for parenting time. The judge can disagree with both of you, and they can come up with some type of compromise that is entirely different from your suggested ideas.
You don’t need to go to court.
Many are under the false impression that the only way to get divorced is to go to court. That’s just not true.
You don’t need to go to family law court to get a divorce. You can resolve all of your disputes with your spouse, such as child custody and support, spousal support, and property division, through other dispute resolution methods, other than family law court.
Before you try any alternate method of resolving your divorce, both of you must be willing to compromise and want to avoid court.
So what choices do you have to avoid court?
One solution is for you and your current spouse to try to work out as many issues, by yourself, as you can. If you’ve already hired a lawyer, make sure they can try to help you solve problems, instead of constantly only suggesting that you should go to court.
A lousy attorney can create enormous problems for you.
In simple terms, meditation places all of the power to settle your case with you and your spouse—not a judge. Mediation will encourage a real working relationship because you will have to open up the full lines of communication that may have broken down a long time ago.
Putting aside the facts and the law of your case, you and your spouse may finally understand what the underlying causes of your disagreements have been.
Mediation has provided hope to many families who are going through the painful process of divorce. You will make your own decisions about your life. Not some judge who doesn’t know you or your family.
You will have to rely on your own judgment. You can’t rely up the “experts” many people rely upon when faced with issues in their divorce.
You and your spouse will have “buy-in” on all of the decisions. Therefore, there’s an incentive for both of you to want to make the choices work out.
Finally, if you are both represented by lawyers, try a four-way conference meeting. Getting everyone together to try to resolve your conflicts may be helpful.
You may not be able to settle all of the issues, but if you take some of them off the table, then you can save money and avoid going to divorce court. It may take several meetings to work through your issues, so be patient. After all, you are making your own decisions.
Find a good mediator.
For your mediator, find an attorney who has experience in mediating cases. They must also have expertise specifically handling divorce cases, and they must understand the details of divorce laws.
A general mediator, someone who handles all kinds of mediations like business disputes, will not understand enough about the laws of divorce to give you advice for complex decisions.
To settle everything, a good mediator will take all of the input from you and your attorneys (if you have hired one for the mediation).
Your mediator must be a good listener. Their emotional IQ should be off the charts.
They must be patient. It can take many sessions to come to an amicable resolution of your issues. Take your time. That way, you can avoid going to trial.
Divorce mediation can be an inexpensive, speedier, less stressful and more effective way of resolving your divorce issues.
For many couples, the divorce can be harder than actually breaking up. Mediation can change that.
The last thing you want to do is go to trial and have one of you say something that you will regret. Those comments will be on the record for everyone to see forever. They can’t be taken back. Remember that before you decide to go to court.