Whose Rules?

By Schonauer Law on Aug 07, 2019 at 09:29 PM in Collaborative

Whose Rules?

Life rarely provides the opportunity to make your own rules, rules that feel fair and work.  A Collaborative Dissolution presents an opportunity for spouses to collaboratively make their own rules, be in control, and determine how new lives will begin, not politicians or judges.

When asking a court to resolve the issues associated with a dissolution, a judge has two jobs, determine the facts (e.g. income; assets; debts; what marketable skills does a person have; support, how much, how long, and ability to pay … etc.).  The second job is for the judge to apply the rules.

The Rule of Law

The rule of law is a combination of statutes and interpretation of those statutes by the court.  Statutes are passed by a collection of lawmakers far, far away.  While rules should be well-defined, sometimes that is not the end result.  Because of this reality, the rule of law includes the interpretation and application of those statutes to individual situation by the court of appeal.

The rules are not made with your specific circumstances in mind, but drafted broadly with the intention of being workable in most, and hopefully all, situations.  In reality, this is often not the case.  This fact can be very problematic when two people want to get a dissolution.

A particular rule properly applied by the judge may seem fair in one instance, and in another, under different circumstances, fundamentally unfair.  Often judges are provided one choice, follow the rule until it is changed by the politicians, and that choice can be detrimental or unfair to one person, or all persons, involved in a dissolution.  See an "For example:" below.

Rules specifically tell the judges what they can, and sometimes, what she or he cannot do and/or consider.  For example, a judge generally cannot defer the sale of the primary residence.  However, under the collaborative approach, spouses are generally not constrained by the rules laid down by Sacramento and other strangers about what you and your spouse can, and cannot do.  In a collaborative dissolution, you, your spouse, and your team decide how to proceed moslty uninhibited by what the law believes is best for you and your family.

Judges make mistakes.  Judges can get facts wrong and misapply the rules.  Sometimes, the mistakes are egregious and when they happen, they are all but impossible to undo, and can only be undone after great expense and effort.  The same facts and law may result in one outcome in courtroom A, and drastically different outcome in courtroom B.

In a collaborative process, decisions are made deliberatively and by agreement, not chance.  Mistakes are rare.  When they happen, the collaborative team can help correct those mistakes.  If any mistakes occur, it is a team mistake, eliminating the greatest barrier to correcting a mistake, the ego of the person who made the mistake.

A collaborative dissolution is hands-down the best choice in ending your marriage.  Asking the court to make decisions so intimate to the lives of your family comes with more risks that can be quantified, qualified, are even describe.  Make the right choice, choose collaborative.

For example:

Scenario A:  Wife purchased a $100,000 house with a $100,000 mortgage prior to marriage.  After twenty years, wife gets married.   During the marriage the remainder of the mortgage is paid by both Husband and Wife (aka the community).  The marriage lasts for 10 years.  When the spouses separate, Husband has a $25,000 interest plus a part of appreciation due to the market appreciation.

Scenario A: Husband purchases a $100,000 house with a $100,000 mortgage a week before getting married.  During the marriage the mortgage is paid by both Husband and Wife (aka the community).  The marriage lasts for 20 years.  When the spouses separate, wife has a $25,000 interest plus a part of appreciation due to the market appreciation.