If you and your spouse are constantly arguing, or not speaking at all, and animosity takes over all of your interactions, it may seem logical to litigate and get your day in court. However, I have found that these are the couples who benefit most from exploring all of their options and really thinking about which will help them best overcome this animosity as they move forward as co-parents after the divorce. Because the type of lawyers you and your spouse hires will make a big difference in how your divorce plays out, it is imperative to get in to see an attorney who will give full disclosure about ALL of your options—not just those they practice—as soon as possible. Sadly, most lawyers lead clients down a path toward litigation, regardless of the couples circumstances and situation. It is how we were taught in law school. Our court system is built on this premise: me vs. you. However, through a lot of experience and advanced study, I have found that other options and opportunities are available and successful. What at first glance may seem like a dead end without hope, with the right awareness, can be turned around into amazing work and deep resolution. In my experience, cases like yours are the ones that benefit the most from ADR (appropriate dispute resolution), without which they would have spent years in litigation, racking up not only financial, but also emotional costs.
Many of my clients who have difficult situations and struggle with a lot of anger and resentment in the relationship with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse tell me they worry about “wasting time” exploring their options, when their spouse is sure to litigate and would never agree to anything else, especially if the idea comes from them. Don’t be so sure. You would be surprised how often people claim they want to fight, but when the reality of the divorce and the toll it will have on the family becomes undeniable, they often come around to at least considering healthier alternatives and putting their family first.
Keep in mind, when scared or angry, people say and do a lot of things that they don’t really mean. In criminal law, attorneys say that we see some bad people at their best but in divorce law, we see good people at their worst. If properly educated about their choices and options, even the angriest spouse would rather pick a process that focuses on the best interest of their children than anything else. Give your spouse this opportunity.