Our relationships are essential - most of us marching to the Courts have that in mind.
"I'm going to protect what's mine." Been there, done that. I ended up in over 150 court hearings - it cost well over a quarter million dollars. Not once did I get a perfectly written Court Order to suit my children's needs or circumstances. Did you read that? Not once.
Suppose you head to Family Court for a divorce, custody, parenting time issues, post-decree matters, or a child welfare-related issue. In that case, you'll likely never get a perfect Court Order if you seek a hearing or pay a lawyer to litigate on your behalf. What's up with that?
These family matters are rooted in relational conflict - the Court doesn't address that - it's best at the splitting of time, property, assets/debts, etc. The Court can handle those material-based matters leaving you still with the relational discord that got you there in the first place. Second, you are the expert in your life - not a lawyer and not a Judge - why the hell would you give up your voice and power and hand it to someone else? To win? Don't feel bad. I bought into this idea 150 times, but it got me nowhere other than plenty of heartache, sleepless nights, and a giant bill I could have invested in my kids' college fund.
Getting that perfectly written Court Order you are looking for is possible. Here are the three critical decisions you'll have to decide on to help you get the desired Court Order:
Don't give away your power and ability to make decisions. You've been making life's decisions with wise mentors or trusted friends. Guess what - the Court recognizes that about you! The Court PREFERS you creatively solve your matter in mediation (or any other form of conflict resolution) so that you can maintain your power and decision-making.
Pour your energy into constructive decision-making and get all your decisions written out. There's a wide variety of ways to do this based on your personality type, how you are getting along with the other party, and the type of support you'd like to have - check out our bulleted list below!
Have your decisions organized and written the exact way you've all agreed to, then prepare them (using your mediator, Self-Help Desk/Online Court tools, or your lawyer) to submit to the Court for a judge to sign of.
Friends, based on the ridiculous amounts of time I've spent in the Courts, this is how you achieve a perfectly written Court Order. Of course, you'll have to dig deep personally and choose to fight for a peaceful resolution that everyone can live with - it's slower but worth it. If you are like me, I never learned how to navigate conflict in healthy ways - I'd be happy to guide you because I sure learned over the last 20 years.
If you are a Do-It-Yourself person: Use the Self-Help Desk (all 50 states listed here) and the online MN Court Resource E-Forms (the Courts made these e-forms organized by topic). How can you have a constructive conversation with these resources? Get a free or private tutorial session on applying a communication technique that allows everyone involved to share power for decision-making. There's even a Parenting Time Workbook available!
If you want a neutral facilitator: Hire a mediator and commit to working through a mediation process - don't throw in the towel when it gets complicated; that means you are actively pushing through the relational conflict that landed you in that spot. Take plenty of breaks, and bring in your trusted friends/wise mentors (it's ok)! Be careful of who you ask to mediate - find a mediator that honors your decision to retain power and make decisions. We recommend our great list of family mediators who've been trained to do just that and handle very complex relational matters.
If you hired an attorney: Make your wishes known to maintain your power and make decisions outside the Court. They will help you achieve that goal. If they don't support your plan - I'm sorry. You have the wrong attorney. Ask your attorney what areas to focus on based on your situation and their recommended next steps.