In a recent article entitled How to Have the Nastiest Divorce Possible, Andrea Vacca wrote about several ways to guarantee the a divorce will be long, expensive, and bitter. Of course her purpose is not actually to encourage nasty divorces; it is intended to point out some of the things people can do to keep their divorces from becoming so awful.
Her five tips for a nasty divorce are:
- Hire a bulldog lawyer
- Don’t explore Mediation or Collaboration
- Fight for your principles
- Listen to your friends (the Greek Chorus)
- Insist on your day in court.
I have to agree with each of her points.
Bulldogs: Lots of people go into divorce assuming it has to be nasty and that the best thing to do is to hire the meanest, most aggressive attorney they can find. In fact, certainly in our area at the very least, very few divorces go to trial. They are usually settled out of court, so why not hire a lawyer who can help you negotiate rather than fight? Good negotiating requires listening, patience, and an understanding of the other side. An overly aggressive approach often makes it harder to settle rather than easier, and almost guarantees higher costs to get there.
Dispute Resolution: Dispute resolution methods like Mediation and Collaboration help parties reduce conflict in order to get to settlement. Conflict uses up tremendous amounts of energy, time, and money. If you can skip all that and move on to finding solutions, won’t you be much better off?
Principles: I don’t know how many times I’ve heard clients say “its the principle.” ‘Principles’ are just points you decide to be stubborn on. If you can have principles, so can the other side. So if you are inflexible, and they are inflexible, you are probably going to spend a lot of effort going nowhere. Reaching agreements requires flexibility that recognizes the other side’s pint of view as well as your own.
Friends: Your friends want what is best for you – after all they are your friends. However, because they are your friends they are not objective, they don’t know they downsides of your case, and they are talking from very limited personal experience. Take your advice from divorce professionals, your friends should be there for emotional support.
Court: Court is never fun. You may get to tell your story about your spouse, but your spouse is also going to get to tell their story about you. What comes out of the other end of the trial process is a crap shoot, but chances are it’s not going to be very close to what you thought it should be. If you want to have some control over the outcome of your divorce, you need to try to negotiate the settlement rather than leaving it up to a third party (Judge) to decide.