(This is an occasional column for the web-page of the Triad Collaborative Family Law Group, reporting on recent litigated cases and using them to illustrate why in general it is wiser for couples to use the Collaborative Law process rather than submit themselves to the process of the courts.)
Example 1: A case from July, 2014, struck this reviewer’s eyes as a typical example of why one should avoid litigation. The case was Church v. Decker. The parties were in court, arguing about attorney’s fees. It turns out that in addition to going to trial “numerous times,” the parties had taken their case to the appeals court three times already. In connection with the appeals, the trial court had ordered the ex-husband to reimburse the ex-wife $4,500 in attorney’s fees, and the ex-husband was objecting to that. The appeals court decided that the trial court had not put sufficient details into its attorney’s fees order, so the appeals court sent the case back to the trial court for more details. And on that case goes! Moral: Is this the kind of process in which wise people want to be involved?
Example 2: In a June, 2014, case an ex-husband complained to the appeals court because of the amount of alimony that the trial court had ordered him to pay his ex-wife. He complained because the trial judge had found the evidence about how much money the wife needed was persuasive. But, the court found the ex-husband’s evidence about how little he could afford was unpersuasive. The appeals court gave the ex-husband no relief. The trial court’s decision about whom to believe and whom not to believe is up to the judge. Moral: In the collaborative process, you keep control and avoid the risk of the judge getting it wrong; whatever the issue is.
Samuel B. Johnson
Samuel B. Johnson is a collaboratively trained attorney and active member of the Triad Collaborative Family Law Group.