Among too many uncritically examined “givens” you’ll hear bandied about the courthouse as truth, I’ll note the following.
Every family situation is unique. No judge could decide better than the married spouses themselves what’s best in organizing their separation in divorce than they are, themselves.
Believe me: You’re really not gonna like it if you force the court to decide this (that, or the other question) in your divorce.
It’s a foundation upon which the so-called mediation movement is built. And, invariably, the cadre of professional practitioners, seemingly sprung-up in service to it.
Problem is, “consumers” of divorce (ie, you and me: The folks whose marriages have hit the skids) are never accountably given to understand just why this is so. Shown the data. Objectively.
What, exactly, is it that makes the allocation of debt, parenting time, and the house so different for Mr and Mrs Smith, as opposed to Mr and Mrs Jones? By what order of magnitude does it differ? You know: Are we talking huge risks of inequity, like failing to count change from using a hundred dollar bill to purchase a Snickers bar from the candy counter at a seedy gas station? Or a situation more analogous to deciding whether or not to drop just a few coins coming back from that treat-buy into the take-a-penny, leave-a-penny bowl?
Conversely, we know for a fact that litigating your divorce is expensive. I can show you the numbers on that.
But it’s hardly a credible specter, since virtually no couple “goes to trial” for their divorce, soup-to-nuts.
So telling husbands and wives that “mediation is cheaper” than that is somewhat disingenuous. It also diverts attention from the real issue: Both litigation (including trials, motion hearings, and other courtroom appearances) and mediation (meaning, hiring a professional negotiator, often in addition to lawyers advocating for each side) is a custom process.
How many people need a custom process? More pointedly, how many people need a custom process vis-à-vis value received on money spent?
Consider: Time was that buying a new car was commonly done via custom process. Not exotic cars, mind you; we’re talking Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. I remember purchasing my 1987 Oldsmobile by literally answering pages of questions from the salesman, ranging from seats, to engine, to suspension, to color, to number of doors. Weeks of waiting for delivery would follow.
At one point along the way, the salesman called to tell me that my order had to be put on hold due to a conflict in my configuration.
Turned out, one either had to have pulse-wipers and cruise control, or neither. Couldn’t have one without the other.
For a more modest example, how many of you all reading this have had lunch at a fast food joint in the past month? Did okay with the menu, did you? Maybe even ordered a “combo” meal, figuring you could toss the excess fries that came with the package deal and still come out dollars ahead versus à la carte?
What about your home? Did you buy a piece of land, then hire an architect to design a house custom-suited to your situation?
Maybe you did. But, if so, it wasn’t in reaction to ominous, vague threats. And you didn’t do it without rational assessment of both stock offerings and a clear understanding of the degree to which your circumstances truly differed from everyone else’s. Even then, someone probably piped up and asked how likely your “dream home” would be if you decided to go for it in this way.
Of course, you, and your spouse, and your children, friends, and extended family are all special people. But you don’t have to spend wheelbarrows full of money on any divorce process to prove that.
So I’d encourage you to make your divorce no more complicated than it actually is.