Legal Blog

Why I Use the War Analogy When Talking about Divorce Litigation.

I’ve been practicing family law for almost 15 years, and I have handled hundreds of family law cases in court.  Many times when I meet with a new client they have a preconceived notion of the divorce litigation process, taken largely from television dramas or relayed through the distorted lens of a disgruntled friend who has been through the process.  New clients often walk in with a decided course of action to “go to court immediately,” without considering the tremendous expense, added animosity, and whether that is the right strategy for the case. The court system is imperfect.  Frankly, it’s flawed in the area of family law.  Whereas the courts are very good at making one side pay another side a sum of money (as in a civil case), or sending a bad guy to jail (as in a criminal case), courts struggle mightily, and unsuccessfully, to repair broken families. A decision by a judge is based upon admissible evidence and the law.  It is also based upon the judge’s quick impression of the litigants’ testimony and demeanor in court, at trial, during one of the most stressful periods of their life, after a few hours of testimony.  That experience is very daunting, unfamiliar, and it makes people very nervous.  In a divorce or custody case, the judge’s decision is based upon a snippet of a party’s real personality and circumstance, which is warped by the constraining rules of evidence. This is why using the war analogy is a helpful tool.  Litigation is like 20th century warfare.  As Winston Churchill put it, “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” As the opposing forces march their tanks up to the battle field, tensions rise, anxieties build, and fear becomes a motivation for decision-making.  As the battle begins, injuries and damage are abundant, collateral damage is a certainty, expenses spiral away, and control is often lost.  Ultimately, a decision is made that ends the fight, but at what toll? Ok, maybe I’m being overly dramatic here, but you get the point.  I use this analogy to dispel clients from the common perception of the court system, i.e. that it exists to help “me,” and to make sure they consider all the costs and collateral effect that vigorous litigation will have upon them and their families.  Always keep in mind that litigation is uncertain, difficult, and costly.  But sometimes it is the only path to resolution, which is why you should be aware of an attorney with a quick trigger finger.  You and your lawyer should craft a sound strategy of diplomacy, backed up by the force of litigation if necessary.  Going to court is often inevitable, but sometimes it is not, which is why each case must be evaluated very carefully by an experienced litigation attorney. If you have any questions, please contact Alex Allman at: Divorce in Maryland aallman@offitkurman.com | 410.209.6438 Alex Allman focuses his practice in the areas of family law and civil litigation. Mr. Allman has been involved in handling all aspects of domestic or family law cases, including divorce, property distribution, child custody, child support and alimony, as well as a broad range of complex commercial and civil litigation. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.