Family Court: The Court of Last Resort?

For years, family lawyers have been warning their clients that litigation should be a last resort, and only pursued when all other reconciliation options have been reasonably exhausted. This advice is not just about avoiding the massive costs of a court battle. It’s also about saving valuable time and avoiding stress – especially for any children involved.

Now, and perhaps surprisingly to outsiders, some judges are adding their support to the advice that litigation should be the court of last resort.

For instance, in his book Tug of War (ECW Press, c2009), Judge Harvey Brownstone writes “What we judges see in family court is beyond belief and certainly more dramatic and gut-wrenching than any television show or movie…family court litigation is unpredictable, time-consuming, expensive, and highly stressful.” (Read an excerpt from Judge Brownstone’s book in the latest edition of Divorce Magazine.)

And in her book The Good Karma Divorce: Avoid Litigation, Turn Negative Emotions into Positive Actions, and Get On with the Rest of Your Life (HarperOne, c2009), Judge Michele Lowrance helps people “avoid the black hole of litigation” by offering tools, strategies and steps for divorcing people to stay out of court.

And Judge Lynn Toler, author and presiding judge on the nationally syndicated television show Divorce Court, has advised readers of DivorceMagazine.com that “[d]ivorce is a legal proceeding granted by a court. But adversarial manoeuvring is not the only way to reach that legal end. Divorcing couples should consider all of their options, including Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR can help you walk away with not only a mutually tolerable result, but a greater sense of control.”

So we ask: what are your thoughts? Are you a professional (judge, lawyer, mediator, forensic accountant, or other divorce professional) who agrees, disagrees, or has something to add to the opinions above?

Are you individual who has experienced or supported someone going through divorce, and have some advice to share on the “black hole” of litigation – or perhaps, it wasn’t such a disaster at all?

Please share your insights and experiences with the community.

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