Court Interrupted: Avoid It If You Can

I have personally witnessed friends being in court following their divorce battling over child support, alimony, and co-parenting issues for years.  The toll it takes, not only on finances but emotional stability, can bring on anxiety and severe depression.

The best scenario is to try and resolve the issues between the two divorced adults, but sometimes that is just not realistic, and back to court you go.

The process of Family Court does not always support compromise; instead, it can fuel more resentment and anger between the two parties. The ongoing conflict affects every member of the family and keeps the divorcees from moving on and building a new life for themselves.  Plus, it puts an enormous strain on your job if you are always having to miss work to be in court.

Shorten, or totally eliminate, the need for court time by following the tips below:

  • Set a meeting with your ex and try to discuss areas where you cannot come to an agreement.  Have parameters on what topics you will be discussing and what you hope to accomplish.  Give a defined length of time you will meet and address any next steps moving forward.
  • Change how you react to those “hot buttons” your ex seems so skilled to set off.  Give a little, take a deep breath, and ask yourself how important this issue is to the overall safety and health of yourself or your children.  Is it a minor thing you can overlook to save you from returning to court?  The more you can de-escalate your fighting, the less there is to get angry about.
  • Try putting your thoughts down in writing and sending an email instead of a face-to-face meeting.  Sometimes by writing it down, it gives you the time to think about the situation and maybe come up with an alternative resolution.
  • Many people find that enlisting a mediator is a good way to conduct the negotiations. They are not biased toward either party and have a neutral disposition in trying to find an answer that is agreeable to both parties. It also can serve as a learning tool for both of you to understand how to handle conflict situations in a more diplomatic manner.

Take a deeper look at Mediation: 

Mediation is the most common dispute resolution option; however, it is often misunderstood.

Mediation allows you and your spouse to reach a fair settlement with the help of a third, neutral party called a mediator. Mediators, who can be lawyers, mental health professionals, clergy, or other professionals trained in alternative dispute resolution techniques, help you and your spouse identify and resolve issues.

The most important thing to understand is that mediators cannot give either of you legal advice. They are not a substitute for having your own lawyer. The mediator’s role is to help you and your spouse communicate and reach agreement while your lawyer’s role is to make sure your legal rights are protected.

Mediation is confidential, allows you and your spouse to make the decisions, and is less expensive than filing a lawsuit. You can reach a positive agreement that is more customized than the one you might receive from a judge. In mediation, you are responsible for your attorney’s fees, as well as half of the mediator’s fees. In certain states, mediation is required by the court after a lawsuit has been filed; for example, North Carolina requires couples to attend mediation before a child custody trial and equitable distribution trial.

Whatever you decide, make sure to remain respectful, document discussions of relevance and if you have children, keep them out of the discussions.

Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a lawyer and cannot offer legal advice; please seek the guidance of your attorney for any legal action.