Truth is a beloved institution. It’s the cornerstone of our legal system.
“The Truth of the Matter.” “The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth.” “I Want the Truth,” says Tom Cruise to a defiant Jack Nicholson. “You Can’t Handle The Truth,” he snorts back.
This exchange from the movie A Few Good Men“helps to illustrate an important distinction. Tom Cruise, like any good lawyer, is looking for the cold, hard facts. Unfortunately, in the real world, facts are often soft and hot.
What’s a hot fact? A hot fact is something that isn’t cut and dry, it’s open to interpretation and it’s multiple interpretations often cause an array of emotional responses from those involved. Think about the O.J. Simpson case, centered right here in perpetually sunny Los Angeles, California. The facts involved were too hot to be ignored and suddenly the truth took a backseat.
In that case, a cold decision had to be made in a hot case, and in its wake came anger from all sides. That’s what happens when you are forced to funnel an entire history of systematic problems into a simple Yay or Nay.
In A Few Good Men Jack’s character knew his Truth would be seen as cold, but that, in fact, it touched on a myriad of issues that neither a hot shot lawyer nor our blind legal system would understand.
Does it really matter that Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky? It’s interesting, but it’s irrelevant to the bigger picture. The big picture was whether or not Clinton could regain the trust of Congress, the American people, and even his own family. Suddenly, in our haste to discover where Monica bought her blue dress, we are distracted from real issues affected our lives, like terrorism and the economy.
Often we get bogged down with black and white answers when the emotional truth is a shade of grey. When litigating a divorce, the judgement is cold, and both sides are often disappointed. That’s why Divorce Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) exists. It acknowledges that the truth can be irrelevant. A resolution should not be exact and immediate, but instead represent the best possible scenario on an on-going basis.
Think about the last dispute you had with someone. It could’ve been something as simple as fighting over the remote. Did you use the situation to set up guidelines for future disputes, or to build a foundation for the future of your relationship with that person? What was more useful, being able to watch your show or being able to use the heat of the moment to talk to your spouse or loved one about underlying issues? That may be an exaggeration, but you can apply this technique to any dispute.
That’s what we do in Divorce Mediation sessions. Often litigated divorces, in their search for Truth, can get lost in petty “he said/she said” talk, rather than look at the big picture. Research more about Mediation Services and Divorce Mediation to see if it is right for you.