by Frank X. Nageotte, CLS-FL
We will probably never know the details of the divorce case between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. That’s because celebrities and their advisors realize in ways the general public doesn’t always grasp that whatever is litigated becomes public record. Experienced family law attorneys usually encourage their clients to try to resolve their family law issues outside of the court system, whenever possible. All court proceedings are open to the public, and all court records (pleadings – including angry Declarations, filings, orders, etc.) are open to the public. The public includes the parties’ own children, who can go to court years later and read what their parents said about each other.
If the parties are able to resolve their case through mediation, negotiation, Collaborative Family Law, or some other alternative dispute resolution procedure, they can keep much more of their personal facts and circumstances private.
In addition to not keeping their personal information and issues as confidential as possible, perhaps the biggest mistake that divorcing parties make is putting their children in the middle of the divorce “war”. All children need to have a good, healthy, regular, frequent and consistent relationship with both of their parents, and when the parties force their children to “take sides”, they can cause a lot of pain and long-term harm to them.
Parents should not focus on “winning” or “losing” custody. If they truly love their children, they will set aside their personal needs, wants and emotions and find a way to work cooperatively with the other parent in their children’s best interest. The focus should be on how the parties can best continue to jointly raise their children.
Collaborative Family Law is the best dispute resolution process for the protection of the children. Parties who use the Collaborative process are supported in “putting the children first” and in finding a way to restructure the family so as to meet the legitimate needs of the parties and their children.