AVOID DIVORCE LITIGATION
The divorce of celebrity CHRISTIE BRINKLEY created a circus-like atmosphere and took away dignity and privacy. Her children will grow up in a world that has heard all about Dad’s alleged extra-marital relationship and other misconduct. Although most people do not share the celebrity status of a Christie Brinkley, they can share their “dirty laundry” in a long, drawn-out divorce trial which will be open to the public. The antagonism created in a hotly-contested divorce often continues to affect the relationship of the parties in future years as they parent their children.
As the first decade in the 21st century neared an end, the best golfer in the world, became the center of international attention; not for his golf, not for his endorsements but rather, for allegations of infidelity. TIGER WOODS had named his yacht “Privacy.” Now, day after day, we read and heard about Tiger’s extra-curricular activities. “Privacy” is no more. The only question was how the marriage would end; will it be done under public scrutiny; will it be done through mediation or will it be done through collaboration? The first, a traditional litigated divorce may be best for the tabloids, but the alternative dispute resolution of mediation and collaboration would be best for the family.
In 2009, the spotlight shone on the Hartford Superior Court as the eight-year marriage of former UTC Chairman, GEORGE DAVID and his wife MARIE DOUGLAS-DAVID came to a very public end. George David had always been known as a very private individual but, as the media converged at the 90 Washington courthouse, sordid details of the lives of these two people came to life in the courtroom and around the country. Is it possible there was no better way to resolve their differences?
In 2007, the nation’s longest divorce trial took place in Middletown, CT. Eighty-six days of testimony; more than $13,000,000 spent on legal fees and costs. There was a parade of witnesses to testify about allegations relating to child pornography, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse of minor children and the parent’s psychiatric and medical records. It is all in the court records, the very public court records – and there are four young children. If they were not victims before the divorce started, they are now. Can this possibly be in the children’s best interests? Was litigation the best way to terminate this marriage?
Celebrities can be poor role models when coming to take the high moral road; especially in divorce. So it was noteworthy when actor/comedian Robin Williams and his wife Marsha chose to end their 19 year marriage but avoid bitterness and contentiousness and put the children first. Robin and Marsha Williams chose collaborative divorce as a civil way to avoid adversarial litigation. Robin Williams is not alone. Madonna and her ex-husband, Guy Ritchie, also chose to divorce with respect and dignity; by using the collaborative process. And most recently, Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens and his wife Madeleine chose the collaborative process. They understood . . . . There IS a better way.