My Two Big Beefs – Part I

There are two subjects that always make me jump on my soapbox.  (I might even wave my hands around like the little guy here.) 

First, the court’s are an atrocious forum for resolving marital disputes.   After all, how are lawyers trained?  Law school is a three-year course in “the case method” of teaching law, which is over 100 years old and still going (fairly) strong.  In this model, students read written opinions from appeals courts and learn how to support each side.  Our legal system is based on this “adversarial method of conflict resolution” in which each side  promotes their side aggressively, secure in the fact that they don’t have to worry about the other side because they have their own representative promoting their side aggressively.  Well, suffice it to say, if I were ever charged with a crime, I’d want one aggressive individual fighting for me.  Yet, when intimate couples fracture their relationship, the intensity of individual vulnerability and wounding on both sides his breathtaking.  The triggers that caused each person to become flooded by anger – or fear during the marital fights are no less sensitive when they commence upon the road to divorce.  If anything, the vulnerability is even more exquisite.  How cruel, then, to subject these poor people to the violations that are inherent in legal advocacy.  Making the private pains public – subjecting individuals who are going through the soul-searing doubt of divorce to public revelations, criticism or outright attack is nothing short of torture.  Adversarial lawyers speak of protecting their client’s rights.  I would say, “protect from what?”   The answer can only be the other person who had been their intimate partner.  This is the individual who has seen us at our least guarded; with whom we shared sexual intimacy and who knows our deepest fears.  We thought this person would hold this information in trust and yet they become weapons to persuade a person in a robe to give them what they seek.  The minute we tell someone we will “protect” them from this other person, we have created an environment of paranoia which, in most cases, can only do ill.  Courts are a too-blunt instrument for the exquisitely sensitive task of helping people dissolve their intimate bonds.