We often hear people say they are looking for a “pit bull” or “shark” divorce attorney. When people are getting a divorce, they are often in a place of fear. They are concerned about the future, about how their kids will be affected, sometimes if they will lose their kids, how they will suffer financially through the divorce, and how much the divorce will cost. We understand you may think a fiercely aggressive attorney will ensure you get a good result, but often the opposite is true. What I know for sure about an aggressive attorney is that your divorce will be very expensive. Think about it. A pit bull attorney wants to fight. Fighting costs way more money than resolution because fighting takes a long time, usually starts out with a Complaint for Divorce to initiate a court action, requires aggressive discovery, motion practice, and usually culminates in a trial. If there was a script for what not to do in a divorce, all the things I just described are it! These things are no more likely to get you a good result. Here’s why:
Starting the divorce with a Complaint: When people think of divorce, they often think of divorce court. This is largely due to the way divorce is portrayed in the media. However, most of the work is done outside of the courtroom. Once you file that Complaint, you are initiating court involvement. But what if you don’t need it yet? Once the court gets involved, then you have mandatory periodic court events like filing papers and court appearances, even if you don’t really need them. Your attorney must appear in court for them (these days, usually by Zoom), has to do prep work before the court appearance, and may even have to prepare and file documents in advance of the court event. Often, none of these things are going to get you closer to a settlement. But you still must do them if you’ve invited the court’s involvement by filing a Complaint. So do yourself a favor and don’t file a Complaint unless and until it’s necessary. A pit bull will usually tell you to file right away.
Filing voluminous motions: A pit bull’s modus operandi is to litigate. Litigation puts you in court where the judge makes all of the decisions. The way you get in front of a judge during a divorce proceeding is largely by filing motions. A motion by its very definition is asking the court to do something for you, to grant some type of relief. Pit bulls file lots of motions because it’s a way of getting the court to make the other party do something. This might sound great. You might be thinking, “Yeah, make my spouse settle!” Or “Make my spouse be nicer to the kids.” However, the reality is often that it just perpetuates more litigation. A Court Order doesn’t necessarily make people do things, and the court has absolutely no authority to force your case to settle. So, all of those motions really just succeed in making you spend more money and usually inflames the level of conflict in the case.
Engaging in voluminous discovery: Discovery is a period of time during the litigation, essentially between the very beginning and the very end, where the parties have an opportunity to gather information, they need either to settle or to go to trial. The discovery often takes the form of documents, such as bank records, credit card statements, tax returns, and other financial statements. It can also be in the form of experts, such as an accountant for a forensic accounting or business evaluation, or custody experts. These mechanisms not only increase your costs by requiring your attorney to do more – i.e. put in more hours that he or she is billing you for – but also can result in paying the experts for their time as well. So now, instead of paying your attorney on an hourly basis, you’re paying other people too. If you don’t really need these things to reach a settlement, you’re just wasting your money and your time. The only ones making out are the attorneys and experts.
Some people do need these things.However, most don’t.Most divorces do not require protracted litigation, endless motion practice and voluminous discovery.You rely on your attorney to guide you down the best path.That’s the one that will cost you the least, put the least amount of emotional and financial stress on you and your family, and get your matter concluded. If you need help figuring out what that looks like for you, we can help.We believe that most divorces can be resolved and should be resolved with the least cost to you and your family.And we know how to do that.
If you are ready to get started, find an attorney who practices exclusively divorce and family law. The attorneys at NJ Divorce Solutions are experienced in mediation and litigation. We are ready to help you. Contact our office to schedule a Client Vision Meeting or schedule one here.