The Words of Marital War

Win-Win Is Real
March 1, 2024
Irish Divorce
March 15, 2024

Divorce Litigation Language Creates Dreadful Perceptions

by Michael Heath

When hearing the word divorce, what goes through people’s minds? Maybe scenes of a couple arguing? A family forced to sell their home? Thoughts of children displaced? After learning of a couple’s broken marriage, some may experience feelings of sadness. Conversely, it may happen that a side is chosen, resulting in anger toward the other spouse. Others could simply feel empathy toward the kids experiencing familial turmoil by no fault of their own. Minds and bodies have been conditioned to react negatively to divorce and its associated vocabulary for good reason: a failed marriage is a tragedy.

Legalese Puts No One at Ease

When a marriage is past saving, normally one spouse retains a lawyer to begin the divorce process. A lawsuit is filed with the court to end the marriage. The other spouse can then expect a knock at the door from an authorized courier who “serves papers,” which is a summons for a lawsuit. The recipient must then respond within thirty-five days or lose the case by default judgment. No one falls in love with a person expecting that one day this same person will sue them. Certainly no one wants to be sued … for any reason. To send a shiver down someone’s spine a person may only have to say, “I’m going to sue you!”

However, that is what divorce litigation is: a lawsuit where one spouse sues the other. It is an adversarial process where lawyer and client builds their case. Each side becomes entrenched, ready to defend their positions while at the same time preparing to attack. What can come are interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas, motions, and more motions. The reactions that these words often evoke are those of fear for the financial cost, hostilities, and a gruelingly protracted process.

More Peaceful Divorce Approaches Sound Better  

If divorce equates to a couple fighting it out, it is fair to interpret mediation as two people working it out. Mediation contrasts with divorce litigation in that it is a solutions-based approach. Each side brainstorms with the assistance of a mediator to negotiate over issues toward mutually satisfactory results. It is why the word mediation is easier on the ear. A dispute resolution method where the sides work together makes more sense than the inefficient approach of litigation. Collaborative divorce, which is mediation with specially trained attorneys in place of a mediator, resonates the same way. Collaborating is a joining of forces. How could that not be better?

Sticks and Stones

The old childhood rhyme that words cannot hurt us may have been well intended but really does not hold up. No one can say that they have never been affected by someone’s inconsiderate comments or worse yet, mean words. Words have power. Using a divorce approach that is steeped in the lexicon of creativity, understanding, and cooperation should result in an amicably productive ending.





Comments are closed.

Free Consultation


Lost your password?

Create an account?