During marriage, many people say that they have to pick their battles with their spouse. They say that in everyday annoyances they choose to let it go and choose not to “battle,” but in bigger, fundamental issues they choose to discuss, argue, and (hopefully) work it out. While it may seem that the time for this type of decision making ends when the marriage does, it can actually be even more important to carefully choose your battles after the marriage has ended.
Here are a few things that should be considered when deciding whether to battle or let it go:
- Compare the Problem to the Potential Solution. Sometimes a client comes in with an underpayment of $500 for a one-time cost that the other party should have shared with them. They want to go to court and ask the court to require the other party to pay. While we understand this inclination to seek justice, in some circumstances the amount to be gained, is less than the resources that could be expended going to court. (That said, see number two) In those circumstances, it is sometimes advisable to let the issue go.
- Consider the Intangibles. Sometimes it is important to involve the court in your dispute so that you set a standard of compliance with the orders. If your child’s other parents is continually late with child support or maintenance, but you always end up getting paid, it might still be worth bringing this to the court’s attention merely because of the message it communicates to the other party. In some instances it is important that the other party know that you will not tolerate continual misfeasance.
- Think About the Kids. If you have children, it is important to think about the possible adverse effects that might arise from taking the other party to court. I recently consulted with a client that had a great co-parenting relationship with her former spouse. She then told me that he had failed to pay his portion of a childcare bill amounting to a few hundred dollars. We discussed the potential benefits and disadvantages of the suit. She believed that bringing her children’s father to court would sour their relationship. We discussed the importance of keeping written record of his failure to pay, but eventually she decided that ruining their co-parenting relationship was not worth a few hundred dollars.
This is only a brief list of things to be considered prior to bringing a party back to court for failure to comply with a court order, or for other reasons. If you are considering bringing your former spouse back to court and you would like to discuss the issue with a family law attorney, we’d be honored if you chose to contact us.