When a judge makes the decisions about your family and finances, everyone loses.
My parents divorced during a time when the courts granted mothers “custody,” as it was called then, and fathers were permitted to “visit” with their children every other weekend. There was even a term for treating mothers in such a preferential manner; it was called “The Tender Years Doctrine,” and it required the courts to presume that, during a child’s “tender” years (generally regarded as the age of four and under), the mother should have custody of that child. This was, in part, because, statistically, up until recently, mothers in our society were the primary caregivers during their marriages, and the courts continued to treat them as such after they divorced. As such, it was nearly unheard of for our fathers to request or to receive custody.
Today, it is not uncommon for divorced parents to share time with their children equally (or nearly equally) in what is now logically entitled “timesharing,” instead of the outdated and offensive “custody.”
My parents each retained attorneys to shepherd them through the dissolution of marriage process and, despite that their divorce ended more swiftly and amicably than many, the fighting had only just begun. You see, my mother was not satisfied with how little she thought she was being paid for child support and my father was not thrilled with how much support he was required to pay. Neither of them was happy with the custody arrangements, and somehow, I was privy to all of this. I lived in a ping pong game of “ask your dad to pay for it” and “that is what I pay child support for.”
Take my word for it; you do not want recollections such as these to be your children’s childhood memories.
Choosing courtless divorce means that you and your spouse are empowered to make the decisions…
…for you, for your family, and for your finances. It means that you are less likely to end up back in court, and more likely to be satisfied, if not pleased with the outcome, an agreement between you and your spouse instead of a ruling by a judge, someone who doesn’t really know you or your family.
The long-term effect of choosing courtless divorce for your children is that they will be happier and better adjusted. Strangely, despite having two homes to go between, they will not feel as if they are stuck in the middle.
When a judge makes the decisions about your family and finances, everyone loses. Neither party walks away with a sense of ownership and the children are stuck in the middle of a new battleground.
Do not make the same mistakes that my parents and so many others did by allowing lifelong decisions about your family to be made inside the same walls in which lifelong decisions punishing criminals are made. It will certainly feel like a criminal sentence if you do.
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About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.