I see it all the time. The fight rages on for the fight’s sake. Each party sure that they are right. Each party insistent that they must win. The lawyers pile on, adding fuel to the fire. Worse yet, some times this happens when the major issues are resolved and the battle continues because of minor issues or non-issues.
In these cases, sometimes the parties don’t even know that they are as close to settlement as they are. Often, they don’t quantify the remaining amount in dispute to figure out that right or wrong, they will never in a lifetime recoup the legal fees it will cost to be right. Clearly, they don’t consider the emotional cost being right is exacting and/or the value of putting the issue behind you.
Now some people will continue to fight because the fight is all they have left of the marriage or they are otherwise emotionally unable to let go and move on. In those cases, you may have to wait them out, as we have blogged about in the past.
Some times, it is better to avoid the fight altogether and compromise the number. As I have said before, sometimes it is better to look at the big picture and negotiate numbers as opposed to how you got to the number because you may ultimately agree to compromise on the number but will never agree how you got there.
However, most people are sane and rational when removed from the stress of the divorce. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and figure out which issues there is agreement on and which issues remain open. For the issues that remain open, it is then wise to quantify them to see how much is really at stake. Figure out what you would get if you won and if you lost and also look at the midpoint. Then think about how much it is going to cost to get a decision and decide (1) does the cost exceed the amount at issue and (2) is it worth losing the resolution on the major issues?
Most importantly, figure out if it is really worth it to be right or whether it is better to be done.
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.
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