Divorce Is A Choice

Choosing constant conflict with your spouse is choosing to stay married!

Discussion on LinkedIn Family Law Professionals, October 2013

Eileen L. Coen, J.D. | Mediation Matters Mediator
The 17-year long divorce proceedings of two law professors in Ohio have been highly publicized in the news recently. While 
their protracted case made headlines, most of us have heard a story or two about a horrible divorce that went on for years – and years!
(Want to Avoid a Long Divorce? divorcethatworks.wordpress.com)

Nancy Zalusky Berg:
Yep – we call it divorce dating – the most expensive way to stay connected!

Philip Marcus:
17 years sounds ridiculous, unless there were final settlements or judgments, and then legitimate applications to vary the provisions, such as a change in child support because of a SUBSTANTIAL change in circumstances, or an application to change custody or visitation because a SUBSTANTIAL change, such as relocation.

But if this was not the case, the judges need to keep in mind not only their duty to try the specific case before them , but also their duty to other litigants, and to allocate resources, including court time, appropriately; in other words, to prevent spurious and wasteful proceedings.

It helps to have specialist Family Court Judges, who are better able to determine what are the real cases and when the pathology of the parties or one of them, and not the genuine need for resolution of a dispute, is driving the litigation. Even better is One family-One judge, where all the claims are dealt with by one judicial officer. (We have both in Israel).

But even without these, in most jurisdictions the court has power to dismiss cases in limine which disclose no warrantable claim, and in many jurisdictions the power to declare a litigant contumacious – that is, one whose claims must be referred to a judicial officer who will determine if the claim is genuine, thereby avoiding troubling the other party with having to file a defence.

In addition, the courts in many jurisdictions (including Israel) have power to award costs to the winning party, and to award costs to be paid to the the State Treasury (and collection enforceable in the same way as a fine) against a litigant (and in rare cases personally against a lawyer) who has wasted court time.