I recently read about a case involving a couple who litigated their divorce for four years. While a four-year stretch is not so unusual in the litigation arena, the husband’s back story can only be described as a divorce circus!
In this case1, there were 46 interim pre-trial orders issued by the court. The trial lasted seventeen days and resulted in 2,402 transcript pages.
The husband’s first attorney represented him from 2013 to 2015. The husband’s second attorneys were in place from February 2015 to October 7, 2015 when they moved to be relieved for non-payment of their services. Then the husband represented himself for about two months until he became desperate!
In order to arrange for new counsel to represent him, the husband posted hundreds of flyers on telephone poles surrounding courthouses throughout New York City seeking to barter his electrical services for legal services. In addition to the flyers, the husband started a simultaneous social media campaign. According to the decision, the husband “gained immediate notoriety because he was interviewed by mainstream media outlets with his image and statements appearing on radio, television, internet programs and in newspapers.”
The husband used these interviews to foster a self-serving and inaccurate portrayal of how he was being treated by his wife, her lawyers, his prior lawyer, and the justice system as a whole. He also chose to discuss the reasons his marriage failed and lost no opportunity to provide the details of his wife’s affairs. These details led to the media’s quick unmasking of his wife and their children, which led to more court appearances and more motions. Of course the circus continued at trial.
At first reading this account may seem contrived. Unfortunately, it isn’t. In today’s culture, matrimonial litigation has become part of the reality that fills our daily entertainment media as well as the lives of many divorce litigants.
I would submit that when divorcing couples use the traditional litigation approach for their divorces, they are more likely to find themselves being fueled by irritants such as court delays, unsympathetic judges, aggressive attorneys, uncontrolled costs, etc. These irritants, as well as their personal perspectives, lead to extraordinary levels of frustration such as the husband’s behavior in this story.
Can this outcome be changed, I say yes. The first step that needs to be taken is to alter the selection of the divorce process. Rather than traditional litigation, the Collaborative Divorce Process should be used. In the Collaborative arena, the parties start their divorce journey with a team of inter-disciplinary professionals who have been trained to deal with divorce hostilities in a way that neutralizes rather than intensifies these strains and who expressly commit to assisting the couple in reaching a settlement without litigation.
The Collaborative Divorce experience represents a positive approach to a negative life experience. The professionals who are trained in Collaborative techniques offer their clients strong, positive representation that promotes real interests and often results in transformation.
Please consider taking this step or making such a recommendation to a friend or family member. Learn more at my blog, “Become a Good Collaborative Divorce Advisor”; http//lawyersonli.com/collaborativedivorceadvisor
I am available for consultations for individual representation and would welcome the opportunity to promote this process in our community to appropriate groups and organizations.