Are You Leery of the Divorce Legal System?
Most people are, and it would be understandable if you were too. You are about to enter a formal and scary process that is a mystery to you. You have been told that it will be frustrating, lengthy, costly, and perhaps even harmful to your family unit. You don’t know how much of it is myth and how much isn’t.
To make things worse, you will be accompanied on this journey by someone who belongs to a profession that you have been told not to trust.
You are about to lose control of the things that are most dear to you. Someone in a black robe is going to tell you how it is. Your rights and obligations regarding finances and parenting will now be determined by a stranger.
Why is this? Isn’t this just a family matter that should be determined in a friendly and more mellow fashion? Why all the formality? Shouldn’t a court that deals with family problems be less formal and more sensitive?
It is because the Constitution prohibits taking someone’s property without due process of law, and that means using the strict, unwavering standards that go hand in hand with the adversarial approach.
In many jurisdictions, the judge who hears a divorce case today may be sitting in the very same courtroom tomorrow presiding over a death penalty or airline crash case. The subject matter of the cases may vary, but the decorum, procedures, and rules of evidence are the same. And they are all based on the adversarial system.
Here’s what the online thesaurus associates with the word adversarial: hostile, antagonistic, conflicting, opposing, nail-biting, nerve-racking, scary, intimidating, menacing, frightening, chilling, macabre, terrifying, bloodcurdling.
The mere involvement of the legal system often puts unintended trouble into play. Its very tradition, rigid culture, and formality can tense up the best of us. Its presence adds all sorts of apprehension and anxiety to an already combustible mix. This happens even when the divorce papers do not place blame on either party.
No wonder we behave the way we do when divorce enters our life. We are acting according to the combative beliefs of years gone by, which, unfortunately, still hold a great deal of sway.