Compromise in Custody and Divorce Cases

Everyone has a list of priorities in their custody or divorce case. Whether you collaborate, settle, or take the case in front of the judge, you aren’t going to get everything on your list. I recently spoke with judges about compromise in custody and divorce cases. What they said had less to do with who’s right and more to do with how they, and you, can come to resolution.

“We don’t jump into your drama.”

“There’s always mom’s view and dad’s view and the truth is somewhere else.”

“We’re not giving your child a different dad / mom.”

“The less involved you are with the court the more involved you are in the decision.”

“We cannot fix your problem.” 

“You have to love your child more than you dislike the other parent.”

Judges and Family Law Professionals Take On Tough Custody Issues

Periodically I am invited to participate in the annual Family Court Forum in Ann Arbor where judges, Friend of the Court personnel, attorneys, and mental health professionals from around the state meet to consider the difficult work of family law. This year, the focus was on children estranged from a parent during or following divorce. As a table leader, I paid careful attention, so I could guide our discussions. The comments above are verbatim quotes of judges or FOC staff at the conference; the ones making custody decisions across the state.

Surprised? I wasn’t.

The Key Role of Compromise in Custody and Divorce Cases

Sometimes people think they just need to get in front of the judges and tell them “the truth.” They believe their case is so strong that surely the judge will agree. Those people often forget that their spouse or partner will be sharing their truth too. Judges and referees are charged with hearing both sides, listening objectively, and doing their best to make a wise decision.

After 25 years in practice, I have seen that decision almost always results in each side getting something—but not everything—they want. When a third party—like a judge or FOC referee—is deciding, you don’t get to choose what you’re willing to compromise on so you can ensure you get what is most important to you. The judge will decide your compromise for you. Rest assured, compromise will be required whether you collaborate, mediate, or litigate.

Where would you rather compromise? The right option will depend on your situation, and your priorities. But it might be worth going back to the judges’ quotes as you decide which process will work best for you and your family in the long run.

Wishing you wisdom,

Deborah Bennet Berecz


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Berecz and Associates PLC | Attorneys, Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers | Grand Rapids, MI | Saint Joseph, MI

Disclaimer: The purpose of this site is to give you information about our practice and about areas of the law that may interest you. Everyone's situation is different, and nothing here should be treated as legal advice for your case. For your own legal advice, contact us.

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