No one won. Everyone lost.

Years ago, when I would return from a Family Court hearing, my husband would routinely ask me who won. Now he knows better than to ask me that. It’s not because I’d come home in defeat – in the majority of my cases, I get a favorable outcome for my client – but because he knows that my answer is going to be, “No one won. Everyone lost.” That’s how I feel about litigation in family cases. If the case is in court, everyone ultimately loses.

Imagine for a minute that the first time you see your soon-to-be former spouse is across a table at a support conference; or, worse yet, across a courtroom crowded with cases of wronged spouses waiting to be heard. Suddenly, you’re not talking together, making the best decisions for your family. You’re opposing parties, thinking only about what’s best for you. You listen to your attorney describe the merits of your position, while poking holes in your spouse’s. If you’re angry at your spouse, and feel that he/she did you wrong, does it feel good to hear your attorney speak that way? Sure – that’s called human nature. It validates our feelings. But in the long run, it’s highly destructive. Think about this: after hearing your attorney, on your behalf, describe your husband as an unfeeling and uncaring parent, how do you go home and assure your kids that daddy loves them and wants only the best for them? After hearing your attorney, on your behalf, describe your wife as lazy and unstable, how do you keep those feelings from communicating themselves to your kids? Better yet, how do you expect that uncaring or unstable parent – who’s listened to him/herself described that way – continue to co-parent with you? And effective co-parenting is what your kids expect and deserve.

Needless to say, engaging in the collaborative process prevents the scenarios I’ve described above. But even if you choose to engage in the more traditional litigation model, it’s important to keep that in mind. There will be many times when you will need to stop and ask yourself if the short term gain is worth the long term destruction.

At Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates, Ms. Kleiner brings more than 25 years experience of family law and divorce to the table. She is uniquely qualified to help you understand your options, properly advise you and help you achieve your goals. To discuss your divorce or family law matter in confidence with an experienced lawyer, please call Ms. Kleiner at 215-886-1266, or fill out an online intake form.

Montgomery County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals