The Painful Path of Divorce Litigation
by Emily F. Robinson, Esq.
Law Offices of Emily F. Robinson, Westlake Village, California
As I sit here in a Los Angeles family law courtroom, watching two parents fight over custody of their young son, I can’t help but think there must be a better way to do this “divorce” thing. We wait patiently for the judge to call their case. We have been sitting here for two hours, the parents waiting nervously for their turn.
The clock ticks – 11:15 a.m. Their case has still not been called and if we are not called soon, we will be stuck over the lunch break and not heard until 1:30 p.m. My client has now spent over $1,000 for me to sit there in court, doing nothing but waiting. He and I both know he can’t (and may never be able to) pay this bill.
Eventually the case is called. The judge does not know what to do with these two parents who cannot stop fighting. He has seen them with me in court every year, multiple times, for five years. He orders an attorney for the child, a custody evaluation, and a parenting plan coordinator… none of which my client can afford but must somehow now find the funds to pay for before the next court hearing. The son’s college fund is gone, the debt from the litigation is insurmountable, and there is no end in sight.
Because these scenes happen frequently in my family law practice, I am drawn to the Collaborative process. In a Collaborative divorce, there is no waiting around the courtroom for hours. There is no black hole of attorney’s fees. There is no litigation.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are well-trained professionals that put your family first and allow you to guide the process. There is a team that works together, instead of against each other, to make your divorce as painless and amicable as possible.
After working on Collaborative cases, it is harder for me to work on litigation cases. It is torturous to see the pain in people’s eyes when the court will not listen to them or understand their concerns. It is devastating to have to explain to a client why and how the court can make a custody decision about his/her child in five minutes, without knowing the family at all.
The Collaborative process provides the clients an opportunity to work together for the benefit of their family. It affords clients the ability to control the results, instead of the divorce controlling them. By choosing the Collaborative process, people are able to come up with creative solutions and ideas that would not be addressed by a court. There is a light at the end of the tunnel in Collaborative divorce, and your Collaborative divorce team will guide you there with optimism for your future.