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The Divorce Process: Let me Introduce You to the Judge

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If you live in France, you might soon be able to get divorced without a judge. I just read an article about how the country is considering altering its divorce process to allow court clerks to approve divorces of couples who have a settlement agreement in order to free up time for busy divorce judges. You know what I say about that? Good for France!!

Anyone who has ever been through the divorce process can tell you all about divorce judges, the people who are making life decisions for you if you are in litigation.

Divorce judges are beyond busy. They walk into work every morning and spend their days hearing case after case after case. And this goes on for years and years and years.

Divorce judges have heard it all. Nothing seems to surprises them. They have listened and listened and listened and listened, and in my opinion, many of them just can't listen anymore. They're just spent, I guess, burned out, possibly.

I'm not trying to paint a negative picture of divorce judges. I have the utmost respect for them, but quite frankly, anyone put in their position would most likely grow tired and weary, and possibly just become immune to a lot of things they hear. It would be almost impossible for a divorce judge to really hear the details and stay fresh for every single case.

While in litigation, a few things can happen. One, (and this actually happened to me,) the judge was out ill -- twice!! -- and I had to pay my attorney for the trips to court. Two, the judge could side with the person who has the more convincing attorney. Three, the judge could order mediation, so that the parties have the possibility of reaching an agreement on something by themselves, or four, the judge just makes a decision (hopefully, the right one).

So, what are the solutions after knowing this? Here is what I've learned based on my experience:

1. Pick your battles: Don't fight for petty things. Don't tell your attorney to tell a judge that your ex doesn't want to pay for your son's birthday party. It will cost you $1,700 to get back $200. Don't tell your attorney to tell the judge that your ex didn't adhere to your custody agreement for two days last month, or that he was three days late with the child support payment. Why? Because honestly, judges don't care!! They can't care. They don't have the time to care. They care about the big stuff. So save the big stuff for the judge, suck it up and figure out the little things with your ex.

2. Avoid litigation all together: If you can mediate, you will save so much money! Mediation involves a lot of swallowing your pride and making it work with your ex. Not easy, but a lot cheaper and more peaceful for what will probably be the same result.

3. Put yourself in the mindset of the judge. Try to imagine what it would be like and then decide how much you want (or don't want) your judge involved.

I understand, of course that in some instances litigation cannot be avoided. But just remember, judges don't give attorneys a lot of time. Your attorney must get right to the point. He or she wouldn't be wise to tell the judge that your ex swears in front of your kids, or that he had his girlfriend sleep over there after only a month of dating or that she talked badly about you to your children. These things aren't good, but they aren't big enough to get slotted into a judge's agenda. In divorce court, there is no time for details. It might be a rotten thing to say, but it's true: That's what therapy is for.

Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!