A Florida millionaire has been cited for contempt of court and has been sentenced to serve 180 days in jail for violating a court order relating to his divorce proceedings. This unusual example of the pitfalls of heated divorce litigation serves as a clear reminder of the benefits of a collaborative law approach to divorce, in which a mutually agreed upon settlement is reached without the help of the court system.
In November 2010, while the man and his wife were undergoing divorce proceedings, the judge in the case ordered the couple's 16-year-old son to enroll in a particular boarding school. However, instead of chaperoning the boy to school as ordered by the court, the man took his son to Las Vegas, where an impromptu marriage ceremony was held between the 16-year-old and the 18-year-old daughter of the family's housekeeper. The school that the boy was supposed to attend has a rule that excludes married people from its student body, so the marriage in effect prohibited the teen from enrolling there.
The man's young son has claimed that the marriage was legitimate, however. But the judge in the case does not appear to agree. In an order, the judge wrote that the marriage was nothing more than a sham excuse to violate the court's order.
If divorcing parties cannot agree on a particular issue, the judge will be forced to rule and may issue a ruling that is less than ideal for both parties. But divorcing couples can attempt to reach an amicable divorce resolution themselves, which has the advantage of keeping the decision-making power with the parties and avoiding expensive, painful and time-consuming court litigation.
Source: NBCMiami.com, "Millionaire Jailed for Permitting Marriage of 16-Year-Old Son," Karen Franklin, July 12, 2012.