Can You Litigate and Still Negotiate Your New Jersey Divorce?

Logo (deleted a089e216dffb70092bc6ef5ef2c116d4)Logo (deleted a089e216dffb70092bc6ef5ef2c116d4)The New Jersey Divorce Court system can be an extremely scary unknown process. After all, unless you’ve personally been through it, there is no way to know the ins and outs of how the process works.

Put Your Trust in the Right Attorney

Each divorce is uniquely different and each should be approach with a customized strategy that benefits your particular situation.

That’s why it’s so important to have a lawyer who you trust looking out for your interests and advocating for how you want your post-divorce life to unfold. A lawyer who practices only in such family matters as divorce rather than one who does a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Ideally, a lawyer who is solution-oriented and uses cost effective techniques to resolve the issues that matter most to you – issues such as custody and parenting time, child support, alimony, valuation and distribution of marital assets and debts.

Typically, you and your spouse will each have your own lawyer and ideally both lawyers have these characteristics and can work together effectively. This will significantly reduce the legal fees for both of you, preserving money for important matters, your children, your future.

Use Both Litigation and Negotiation to Your Advantage

Your lawyer should know that litigation and negotiation can both be used simultaneously. The court gives you and your spouse – and your lawyers – the accountability of deadlines for certain actions (such as exchanging financial documentation) and the leverage of having the option to ask the Court to enter a legally binding order.

At the same time, you and your spouse are free to communicate directly or with the assistance of your lawyers about how to resolve the issues that matter most to each of you.

Just because one of you has filed a Complaint for Divorce with the Court doesn’t mean that you have to litigate exclusively through to a trial. In fact, trials are generally extremely costly, both financially and emotionally, and rarely worth it. Neither spouse is likely to get from a judge that which they can get from skillfully negotiating and creatively looking at alternatives for resolving such important matters. Here’s how:

1. Think Collaboration Not Isolation.

If you have children, keep in mind that you and your spouse will forever be joined together through them and that you will always be family; the family unit has simply changed.
Ideally you and your spouse can initially agree on how best to use marital income and assets to pay for your lawyers. Communicate effectively with your spouse to clarify what you mean. Understand your spouse’s point of view and where he or she is coming from.

Working together with your spouse will help to lay the foundation for a smoother and more amicable divorce process.  If difficulties arise, consider seeking out an experienced divorce mediator to help you and your spouse facilitate a mutually agreeable resolution.

2. Tap Financial Expertise.

Your financial advisor can review your available assets and income and suggest options that make the most financial sense, such as a home equity loan or line of credit where you can deduct the interest on your taxes. Your accountant can advise how you might be able to deduct legal fees on your taxes as well.

3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize.

There are no “winners” and “losers” in divorce. However, each spouse has certain things that are important to each of them. Therefore, instead of focusing on winning or losing, ask yourself: what matters most to me? What am I looking to achieve? How can I get there?

By staying focused on how you can achieve what matters most to you, you can avoid unnecessary and costly legal fees and pave the way for a transformed relationship with your spouse, which is particularly important if you have children. This is a priceless gift to them, and to yourself.

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