J. Gregory Hatcher | Divorce Attorney
Domestic matters are often seen as a win at all cost battle between people who once loved each other. After all of the arguing, strategizing and threats, litigants are often faced with some stark realities. They are emotionally and financially spent from the battle. Many litigants take the easy route of blaming the system or the attorneys involved. Very few, indeed, look to the heart of the conflict. The heart of the conflict is usually a problem between the litigants in the first place. It is this conflict that brought them to the attorney’s door or the courthouse steps.
When the smoke clears and the litigants tire of battle, they are often faced with a strong desire to settle their case but, a perhaps even stronger desire, to save face with the opposing party. As such, all parties involved in a domestic battle should realize that, for there to be true peace, there must be honor. In Asian cultures there is a strong emphasis on saving face. It is the same desire that motivates parties to settle, but also frequently prevents them from settling.
A wise litigant and an experienced attorney should always realize from the very beginning of the negotiations and/or litigation that there will eventually be a resolution. Either a judge will resolve the matter or the parties will do so themselves. Effective judges give rulings designed to allow both litigants to walk away feeling the pain of the resolution, but also believing that they have been heard by the court.
When the parties are settling the case amongst themselves, they should be cognizant of the fact that a settlement offer requiring the opposing party to slink away into obscurity, having lost on every particular issue, is not going to work or be accepted by the other person. Instead, there has to be honor among the peace. It is only when this methodology is followed that there is a realistic chance of settlement occurring and that peace being sustained.
A frequently heard statement among former clients of all attorneys, regardless of the outcome, is that they hope they never have to see that attorney again or be involved in such a situation. Accordingly, if that wish is to be fulfilled, there needs to be a resolution or a settlement which is honored by both parties and is workable into the future. Both parties must believe that they succeeded in some ways in the settlement and must also believe that the other party lost in some ways. To be blunt, the parties need to buy in to the solution and learn to live with its terms. Only by following these statements can there be peace with honor.
So, if you read this commentary and you have not yet waded into the waters of separation and litigation, keep in mind the ultimate outcome. If you are already in the thick of battle or negotiations, take a moment to reflect and see if you can find a way out of the conundrum whereby both parties are willing to walk away and not return to engage again in the future.
Greg Hatcher is a divorce attorney in Charlotte, NC. He has nearly 20 years of experience representing clients in complex family law litigation, mediation and negotiation.