One party can force the case into adversarial litigation. As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” This makes finding a “peaceful pathway” more difficult.
SHANNON FAMILY LAW has over 25 years of experience fighting for a client’s interests and right in litigation. Even in adversarial litigation we strive to keep the conflict at the lowest possible level without “rolling-over” to the opposite party.
“Adversarial litigation” is the “war-fare” pathway to a settlement, but it is rarely the pathway to a “resolution”. Why? The law assumes that former lovers are now bitter enemies — persons whose interests are conflicted. It is set-up as a “zero sum” game. The idea is that there is a fixed sized pie and one “wins” by getting a larger slice, then the other “loses” by getting a smaller slice. This “win-lose” perception set-up a “them vs. us” competition. Each side has a competing narrative about who is right and who is wrong and who should be favored by the court. If you have the money — and increasing numbers of people do not — you each hire an attorney and pay out very large sums of money, relative to your resources, to sell your narrative. You quickly learn, however, that you have little control over the process, that the lawyers and judges are in charge, that the legal issues become proxies for the underlying relationship issues.Most cases adversarial litigation ends in a “settlement” rather than a “resolution”. The process may feel like — as noted in a Texas Supreme Court case — “two scorpions fighting in a bottle”. Often times there is a power imbalance; one has the deeper pocket or one is has a more dominating and aggressive temperament; or, one has hired a highly aggressive litigious attorney. Even if you get a settlement, you may feel coerced or that you had “no choice” because you ran our of money or were emotionally exhausted.
If the case fails to settle and does go to trial, you learn that the Rules of Evidence may keep out information important to understanding the true family dynamics and character of the parties. The Judge is managing a docket of many cases, so your case gets only a few hours of judge time. The judge is trained to look at only “legal” issues; “relationship” issues get over-looked. The axe falls and a judicial decision is made. Then, you and you ex-partner and your children have to live with that decision — however workable or unworkable it may be — long after the lawyers and the judge have disappeared.
The “war-fare” pathway usually erodes or destroys trust and good-will; strong negative emotions are intensified; communications are damaged and often filled with hostility and resentments. If you have children you are, nevertheless, expected to “harmoniously” co-parent. How do you think that will work out for you and your children?