In the throes of divorce litigation, settlement negotiations can seem fruitless, leading parties to believe that the best thing to do is to just let the judge decide. Rather than working through frustrating break downs in communication and apparent impasse, letting the judge make the decisions about property, about support obligations and even about children, somehow seems like the easiest and simplest path…a way to just get it over with, win or loose! However, there are some very good reasons to avoid handing over your decisions to a judge and, instead, committing to mutual decision-making (which is a cornerstone of the Collaborative Divorce process).
– In general, judges cannot and do not respond in real time to unfolding crises, allowing bad situations to get worse and worse. In Collaborative Divorce, parties and counsel can address issues as they arise or as necessary, which also keeps the big picture settlement negotiations from failing.
– Judges generally see both parties as the problem regardless of fault, and deem their decision wise or successful if it makes both parties unhappy. In Collaborative Divorce, the parties must work toward resolutions that have benefits for both.
– Judges are limited in the remedies they can order, but in a Collaborative Divorce, the parties can consider many different settlement options not available in the strict application of the law. In Collaborative Divorce, the parties decide for themselves what is irrelevant, what is important, and what resolutions best reflect their common interest and values.
– Judges don’t have to continue in relationships when the litigation is over, but you do! Ex-spouses still have to raise their children together. They still have to see each other at gatherings with common friends and relatives. By its nature, participating in litigation makes spouses adversaries, creating winners and losers, making it nearly impossible to let go of pain and past hurts. In Collaborative Divorce, resolutions are based in understanding the other spouse’s interests. There is no such thing as a resolution that makes everyone completely happy, but the focus is on the future and moving on.
– Even after a judge makes a decision in the divorce, some people just keep taking each other back to court. This is a sign of unresolved relationship issues and a natural consequence of a result being imposed upon the parties. In Collaborative Divorce direct communication between the parties is facilitated and resolution requires that both participate and invest in the final outcome. With both parties invested, the resolution tends to be more lasting and durable than the outcome of a litigated process.