“We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” I tried finding the movie that this saying came from but it is in many. For better or worse, this saying has become a recent mantra of mine – and not just with my kids. In practice, I often tell this to clients and what it means, if the other side wants to resolve things (a particular issue or the entire case, if possible) in a reasonable and expeditious manner, we can do that. On the other hand, if they insist on being reasonable, we can do that too.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes/often you have to fight if not litigate an issue. But sometimes you don’t. Sometimes in the same case, there are going to be good faith, meaningful disagreements that may have to be decided by a judge, arbitrated or hashed out in several mediation sessions – and at the same time, there will be issues that are simply not worth fighting about and/or can be resolved easily with a little communication and a lot of common sense.
Often, this silly skirmishes happen at the beginning of a case, when people don’t know the landscape or think that they have to prove something (“if I am soft now, he will run roughshod over me the whole case”). Other times, people are disagreeable just to be disagreeable. I recently had a motion where, though the other side previously consent in writing to several things, he opposed them just to oppose them to the court – even though he really didn’t oppose them when you parsed the rhetoric.
That said, doing it the “hard way” on things that should be done the “easy way” only serves to ratchet up emotions, hostilities and legal fees – often needlessly. Again, I am not suggesting that you should not fight the good fight when it is necessary. On the other hand, think long and hard if you want to endure the time, money and aggravation fighting over easily resolved issues or fighting just to fight.
Like I said, we can do this the easy way or the hard way – the choice is yours.
Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric is resident in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland and Morristown, New Jersey offices though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or firstname.lastname@example.org.