What is Chronic Litigation in Family Law Court?
Chronic Litigation in Family Law Court refers to the cases that come back to court over and over again, generally for minor issues that could have very easily been handled without new motions being filed or hearings being scheduled.
These constant cases are characterized by very high levels of conflict, with at least one party having such resentment and anger that they are unwilling to compromise on nearly anything, primarily for the sake of not allowing the other party to feel as if they have gotten their way or “won” something. This leads to an enormous amount of time, energy, and money being spent when everyone is hauled back into court for not only the big stuff, such as alimony, child support, or timesharing agreements, but also the small petty stuff, such as which restaurant the parties should be meeting at to exchange the children. It is important to remember that while it is common for former couples to argue over simple issues from time to time, constant litigation and conflict that does not subside over time is not common and is not healthy for children to be exposed to.
How does this effect children?
When the parents can no longer effectively co-parent due to the constant conflict, this begins to interfere with their parenting and involvement in their children’s lives. The most important factor in keeping children of divorce in a healthy and supportive situation, is stability. Stability is typically the one thing that chronic litigation parents lack and because of this, the children are psychologically damaged and develop conflict resolution issues. If children are around the constant conflict, they will learn that conflict is the only solution.
How can I prevent Chronic Litigation?
Many conflicts can be easily resolved in mediation, but both parties must be motivated to come to fair settlement and they must also be prepared to compromise when appropriate. If mediation isn’t helpful, try seeking out a mental health professional skilled in family law issues to help you determine what steps can be taken to lessen the anger or resentment leading to the constant litigation. Especially for divorcing parents, a mental health professional who can assist with co-parenting negotiations and co-parenting skills will be especially important to lower your chances of returning to court once a fair agreement has been reached.
Finally, if you find yourself in a situation in which you become heated and unable to make a reasonable decision, stop and take a breath to compose yourself. Many divorcing couples have a knee jerk reaction to threaten to take an issue to court, but fail to properly consider the potential consequences of this threat. It’s important to remember that if an issue gets brought to court, each party loses all decision making rights because you have elected to give your right away to the Judge. Although Judges are trained to make unbiased decisions, they do not know your family or your children’s specific needs. With this in mind, it is incredibly important to try to work with your ex to solve as much conflict out of court as possible, in order to keep your family’s issues within your decision making ability and to help your children have a healthy, happy childhood.
If you think you or someone you know is becoming involved in chronic litigation, feel free to contact our agency today. We have forensic psychologists and Supreme Court certified family law mediators on staff to help.