At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we observe time and again, divorce is the best and worst of times for litigants (and the attorneys), all at the same time. Everything is changing, yet change is a constant of life and often it (divorce) may enable both parties to go on and grow in new and positive directions in a failed marriage.
There are four (4) tips to minimize legal fees and expedite the process to moving on.
1) Reasonable Expectations.
The first is to have reasonable legal objectives. For instance, a spouse who wants all of the marital estate or alimony for the wrongs of the other spouse, including infidelity or other bad behaviors or vices, is not legally reasonable.
Morally this may be right and indeed fair, but the current body of divorce law is based upon no fault divorce. The principle is that it is better the parties move on in life instead of spend the same number of years as the marriage in trying to correct past unfairness.
Contrariwise, if either party is welded to an unreasonable legal objective that is incongruous with this legal premises, the divorce is going to be costly and drag on for a long time. Yes, the opposing counsel and the court may ultimately get the parties divorced and minimize the litigation to some extent. Particularly, if there are children, the litigation of a spurned spouse may span the children’s minority.
2) Listen to Counsel.
In order to determine a reasonable expectation for the divorce, most divorce litigants, despite the best intentions and level of legal sophistication, are too close to assess such. How does a party formulate reasonable expectations? Listen to your counsel.
It is human nature not to want to set out your bottom line position to your legal advocate, but he or she needs to know this in order to properly handle the case. You should assume your counsel understands not to offer your bottom line. However, without working with your attorney to determine it, there is little ability to settle the case.
Cases that have no overlap between each party’s bottom line do not settle. Equally, cases where the attorneys do not know the parties bottom lines or a general outline of it wind up getting tried. This breeds ill will between the parties and is costly. Thus, listen to the guidance of your counsel if you want an efficient divorce proceeding.
3) Litigate a Legal Case.
The third component to a cost effective and efficient domestic case is to understand they have dynamics often unique in civil litigation. Emotion, love, loss, grief often cloud what civil litigation usually does fairly well–reduce a legal wrong to a dollar figure, if any. Divorcing parties may have so many losses and wrongs inflicted over such a time that monetary recovery is meaningless.
Thus the legal fight itself becomes the unintended legal objective--to fight to fight–and even winning on every issue (a rare circumstance) is anticlimactic. Thus, the fight without a defined legal remedy and objective continues on until a party runs out of emotion, money or willing counsel and/or court, forcing it to conclude, with long-term ill will resulting between the parties, their counsel, and toward the system, the latter of which tried the level best to provide a means to move on.
4) Not all Wrongs have a Legal Remedy.
A corollary to the last tip to a cost effective and timely divorce is to recognize that not all legal wrongs have a legal remedy. The Bernard Madoff cases make this point. Clearly, Madoff victimized thousands and wiped out hard-earned savings. There is no dispute about this.
Nevertheless, despite clear liability, Mr. Madoff had very little assets to recovery (they are still trying). This means that the aggrieved parties have little ability to recovery despite the intensity by with they litigate and the resources they bring to bear in the case. From a law in economics approach, a dollar spent to recover $.50 is a $.50 loss.
Equally, in domestic cases, particularly post-housing bubble, the largest asset, the marital residence, may have negative equity. Terrible circumstances notwithstanding, a divorce court cannot order an award to a party in excess of the net marital estate. This situation is hard to accept outside the divorce context, but in a long-marriage, it may be impossible to accept, despite the fact it is what it is.
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we understand the frustrating to maddening situation divorce brings. The attorneys and courts and judges do not lose sight of this. However, in many cases, a divorce is damage control and the sooner a party comes to terms with, the more able they are to move on. We hope this helps you gain insight into your divorce as you work through it with your counsel.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. handles domestic cases of all types (Divorce, Child Custody, etc.) throughout the State.