divorce court

“I’ll See You in Court!”

As a divorce mediator, I sometimes hear an exasperated spouse use this tired expression (or a colorful variation). Convinced of his or her position, he or she just knows that the judge will agree. Alas, divorce mediation has run into the ditch.

Do You Really Know What You’ll See in Court? 

You may think a divorce unfolds like a drama, with a wise judge listening patiently to bomb-dropping disclosures. The reality is different. Court involves long waiting time and busy judges more concerned with getting cases resolved than anything else. And if your case goes to trial, the only guarantee is that it will be exhausting, ugly, and expensive.

Keep in mind that you’re not alone: in one recent year, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court had more than 150,000 cases filed. Middlesex County alone usually has about 5,000 cases filed each year. That might not seem like many, but only eight judges serve in Middlesex County. They have to see each case at least once, and the contested ones at least twice. In addition, many cases from previous years are still open.

You may believe the judge would agree with you if he or she knew everything you knew. You could be right. But, given the numbers, the judge simply can’t give any particular case close attention. The judge will never know as much as you about your situation. Even if the judge sides with you, the law limits what the judge can order. So you’ve not only jumped into the swamp of court, you’ve limited the possible solutions and let a stranger with incomplete information make critical decisions for you and your family.

“To Be Happy and Healthy, Avoid Hospitals and Courthouses.”

I wish I could claim credit for that quotation. But I truly believe that anyone who’s divorcing owes it to himself or herself and their children to make every effort to avoid court. Divorce mediation offers you a sensible, sane, and cost-effective alternative to the misery and unpredictability of court.

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Thank you.

Dan Dalton