When is the judge the most ignorant person in the room?
I recently attended The Lilac Tree's Divorce University and came away with renewed faith in the power of community and mutual support. There was a great deal of very practical information given to the participants and lots of caring love.
One of the speakers was the Honorable Nancy Katz, who game some good advice from her point of view as a dometic relations judge in Cook County. One of the more powerful things she said was that in a litigated divorce case, she was the one who knew the least about the couple and their needs. In these situations the couple is the most knowledgable, then the attorneys, but the judge, who has to make the decisions about the couple's future, knows the least about what will work for them.
This was all part of an argument to explore alternatives to litigation. Collaborative law and mediation allow the couple to make decisions that will work best for them. And since they are the experts in their situation, those decisions tend to be more lasting.
Of course, these alternatives are not possible for every couple in a divorce, but they should be explored as possibilities for everyones sake. Making your own decisions gives you more control at a point in your life when very little feels empowering. Couples walk away feeling less like someone just told them what to do. Cooperation and communication are good skills to develop, especially for the children, but also for the couple in their journeys to becoming the individuals they are outside of marriage. If litigation can be avoided, everyone wins.