Statistically speaking, divorcing couples are overwhelmingly likely to settle their “case” before a judge hands down a decision after trial. That means that whatever path is chosen to resolve the issues the family must resolve in order to divorce, ultimately, they are likely to make those decisions themselves.
Unfortunately, people who head toward trial sometimes feel as though the judge will see the truth of the situation as they do. Somehow, people feel, “The judge will see how right I am.” I will be rewarded and my spouse punished when the ultimate truth is revealed by the JUDGE. This view is far from the reality of the situation.
Sometimes, in pursuit of this elusive and unlikely affirmation of their righteousness, parties will continue to act in ways that are irrational and destructive to their family’s well being. In such a situation, a judge is likely to find fault with both parties and likely to hand down a result that may not be to either person’s liking.
A few years ago, in the Matter of S. A. v. L. A., Judge Ecker wrote,
It is time for the parties to recognize the financial reality they may well face in the future, given their ages, work experience and future prospects for employment. The court urges that the parties’ focus should be on financial planning with asset and debt liquidation. The continuance of this costly litigation will not heal their wounds, both economic and emotional, already suffered, but rather will exacerbate them.
- A. v. L. A., [Index Number Redacted by Court], NYLJ 1202634506876, at *1 (Sup. WE, Decided December 16, 2013)
It is a shame when people become entangled in the conflict trap of their dispute and lose the ability to see what is in their own best interests and the interests of their families only to engage in a battle that neither one can win. One advantage of Collaborative Divorce and mediation is that both spouses work toward ameliorating conflict rather than inflaming it. Another is that they are both forward thinking—given where the parties are, where are they going? What is the best outcome to set them on that path and how should we get there? These are all questions to help people focus on solving the problem rather than on the conflict itself. Given that most people, in the end, probably want to preserve their assets and as much of their lifestyle as possible, these approaches make sense.