This week, I was told by an adversary that her client was taking what clearly is an unrealistic position as to custody and parenting time, "on principle." I have another matter where a spouse is delaying the matter on principle, because he doesn’t want his spouse to move on with the new significant other. I tried a case earlier this year, clearly over principle, because the wife wanted permanent alimony in a marriage that clearly warranted a term of years and over her demand for 50% of the value of his medical practice, when a lesser percentage was appropriate. Another client wanted us to file a motion, on principle, over a minor violation of a parenting time agreement during the hurricane. In another case, a party is seeking virtually all of the equity in the marital home, clearly on principle, though the law would not suggest she is entitled to anything more than 50% under the facts.
All of these recent examples remind me of a blog post that I did in 2009 entitled "Musings on Principle vs. Litigation." The examples, however, suggest at least two different classes of standing on principle. In the first, someone has a meritorious claim or position, but the cost of litigation exceeds the amount at issue, and/or though right, they are fighting a fight that they don’t need to fight, just to win. As I recently told a family member who was getting divorced, sometimes it is very expensive to be right.
The second class of "principle" is the crazy principle where you think you are right, but you really aren’t right. Not only that, you aren’t listening to your lawyers, mediators, settlement panelists, judges, friends, etc. who are telling you that your position isn’t right. Rather, these people are embarking on a holy crusade, either to punish the other party or for some other improper reason.