Many people are well aware that family law litigation can be prolonged, exhausting, and costly, to say the least. These are motivating factors for litigants to settle their issues in a prompt manner. It is no surprise then that legal procedures are geared toward quick resolutions, as this normally benefits the parties involved.
However, there are some cases that require the parties to take their time to ensure an adequate resolution to the matter, not just one that will resolve the issues quickly. Even though prolonged litigation tends to yield the negative consequences discussed above, families often need to first take time to adjust to their new situation before being able to make final judgments regarding their family’s future.
When parties separate they need time to reinvent their lives with respect to family structure, childcare, financial loss, etc. Separation is a tumultuous time, and parties are not likely to benefit from being rushed into decisions. This is especially the case when children are involved. With regard to custody and access for example, parents need to make decisions for their children without necessarily knowing how the children will adapt to the new arrangements. With respect child and spousal support, parties may be pressured to make decisions regarding these matters without first knowing what their future monthly expenses or income will be.
Giving parties time to get settled in a new house or employment, or allowing children time to settle into a new school or child-care arrangements, will give the family the necessary information upon which to base their decisions that will dictate their lives for the foreseeable years. Therefore, it will likely benefit the family to work together to find temporary arrangements that either may become finalized should they provide the family with some healthy balance of practices, or are amended should they prove to be unhelpful to the family.
This seems contradictory to legal procedures geared toward prompt resolutions. However, it is important for counsel and the courts to allow people the time they need, so that when the matter is settled, the terms of the settlement are in the best interests of the family, and will continue to be in their best interests for the foreseeable future. This will help to prevent settlements that will not be able to satisfy the family’s needs, as these can promote the chances of further litigation down the road.