How had all this come to pass? The couple had divorced a year ago. They did the 50:50 thing, but when it came to the Christmas tree ornaments, she said he was taking all the good ones, including several that were from her mother. She had filed for contempt and said she was not getting a fair shake. At the first contempt trial the judge rolled her eyes, and the lawyers dismissed the case saying they could work it out.
It did not work out, so the Petitioner filed for contempt again. In the interim, things had turned violent, and a few of the ornaments were crushed underfoot. It was the permanent protective order that was keeping the parties 100 yards apart out there in the snow.
The judge wrote a long and detailed order after the second contempt trial, and imposed the remedy that caused the Petitioner to decorate the courthouse tree. When she had finished decorating she was ordered to retreat 100 yards, taking just one ornament with her. Then the Respondent was allowed to approach and take one ornament. He then retreated 100 yards back to where his attorney was. She then approached and took one ornament, and the process alternated until there had been an even division. Needless to say, the attorney fees for this vastly exceeded the dollar value of the ornaments, which was the point the judge was making by having the lawyers there. The judge was hopping mad at everyone for taking up her courtroom time with this.
Each attorney was quietly thinking to herself that in future I am going to add an arbitration provision to my separation agreements, so that disagreements over the small stuff can be taken care of privately without all this embarrassment. Sometimes people really do need to be told.
Happy Holidays everyone.