Ah, the contested divorce. Everyone involved is angry, hurt, feeling betrayed and watching their wallets get smaller and smaller as their cases drag on longer and longer. Every word spoken is misinterpreted and used as fuel for yet another fire. Heaven forbid there are children involved, who, like the little sponges they are, will absorb all of this negativity swirling constantly around them.
Many couples go through divorce just like this and fight, as we say, just for the sake of fighting. They hire attorneys who are more than happy to represent them in endless and boundless litigation. So-called “shark attorneys” who are thrilled to keep the litigation train rolling because it means more and more legal fees for them.
If only divorcing couples realize that constant and drawn out litigation quickly and efficiently depletes what they may very well be fighting over. Have a large joint bank account? That will rapidly diminish in order to pay lawyers to conduct depositions and appear in court. No cash left? Well, you may need to sell that marital home that you just can’t seem to agree on, in order to continue to fund the divorce. Most people don’t realize that a full-blown divorce trial in New Jersey can last weeks. And, the days in court are rarely consecutive.
Need an example? Take the true story submitted to Reddit by user and divorce attorney ammjh: “Took the couple two hours to decide who would get the groceries left in the fridge. Estimated value of the groceries was around $40. Two hours of my time, opposing counsel time, and mediator time added up to about $1,000. It all came down to a Costco/Sam’s Club-sized jar of peanut butter.”
It is just so easy to get bogged down by emotion. Divorce is hard and seeing a marriage is upsetting. These feelings are completely valid. And the presence of them means that it’s not really about the stuff. It’s never really about the stuff, it’s about control and who has it at that particular moment. Fighting over what amounts to pennies ends up costing fortunes in the end.
Our advice? Whenever possible, it is advisable to put your feelings aside in the moment and attempt to work out a livable agreement with your soon-to-be ex. Of course, this is easier said than done and you two may end up needing professional assistance, such as that provided by a qualified and certified family law mediator through the mediation process, a less costly alternative to the typical litigated divorce. In the end, you really want to have as much say in your divorce, now and in the future. Why have a judge make decisions about your family? You know what works best for you and for your children.
Worst case scenario, you and your ex cannot work out every item at issue. It is still better to go to the court for a judgment on one or two issues rather than every possible issue you may have in your divorce. Your time in court will be shorter and your legal fees will be less. And, try your best to work out issues of custody and parenting time with as little animosity as possible. Your children and your blood pressure will thank you in the future.
If you are considering filing for divorce, take a breath and realize that while it will certainly not be a pleasant process, it certainly does not have to be The War of the Roses. If you need assistance, please contact us today to schedule your free consultation with a qualified family law attorney or mediator.