You and your partner have a choice between “war-fare” or “peace-fare” for managing and resolving your couple-ship disputes. If you choose or allow a legal professional to guide you into “litigation”, then you are choosing “war-fare”. There are other “non-adversarial” pathways to resolution we call “peaceful ways” to resolution. How does “war-fare” versus “peace-fare” compare?
“Adversarial litigation” is the “war-fare” pathway to a settlement, but it is rarely the pathway to a “resolution”. Why? The law assumes that your 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 advance 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. 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 your 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?
The peace-fare pathway is non-adversarial. Who qualifies for the “peace-fare” pathway? How does this compare with the “war-fare” pathway?
Almost every-one qualifies for one or more of the “peace-fare” pathways to be described. The exceptions would be cases with serious domestic violence or where one partner wants and/or expects to use “litigation” as a means to punish the other.
Selection of legal counsel is critical at the very beginning. Unfortunately, most law schools have trained law students to practice the “litigation” or “war-fare” pathway. The system is tilted to guide conflicts into the peace-fare pathway. It is important, therefore, to select legal counsel who has trained themselves to offer and guide the clients into a “peace-fare” pathway.
What are some of the “peace-fare” pathways? “Collaborative Divorce”, “Mediation”, “Non-adversarial arbitration”, “Integrative Family ADR”, “Informal Settlement Conference”, “Kitchen Table Negotiation”, “Mediation-Arbitration”. SHANNON FAMILY LAW can help you and your partner plan and select the “peace-fare” pathway that is best suited to your conflicts and disputes.