Hennepin County Family Court Judge Bruce Peterson of Minneapolis wrote an editorial for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, wherein he indicated that it was “time, perhaps, to get courts out of divorce.”
Judge Peterson stated recently that “the current system of family law may be beyond improvement.” He also stated, “it is amazing to me that the American public has put up with government officials dictating the most intimate details of their personal lives.
The worst feature of the current system is the conflict it generates. We call it an adversary system, but a better term would be a coercion system. The parties bash each other in order to persuade the judge to coerce the other person to do something they don’t want to do.
A wise friend of mine, a psychologist, once told me that the normal response of a healthy adult when faced with coercion is to resist. Sensing impending coercion, people often come to court defensive, anxious, with their heels dug in. Despite thoughtful, creative strides by Minnesota courts to reduce conflict, the specter of coercion still haunts divorce cases and promotes conflict. And it is conflict that hurts children, regardless of the custody label….
‘Suing for divorce’ made sense when divorce required proving fault. But with no-fault divorce, there is no need for courts to control divorces. After watching this process for years, I have come to the conclusion that the time has come to consider taking divorce out of the hands of lawyers and judges and putting it in the hands of the parties and whatever advisers they choose….”
SO, in the words from the Bench, consider mediation before litigation.