This is the last of the series discussing alternatives to dispute resolution in divorce. First, we discussed mediation and second we discussed collaborative divorce. This blog focuses on litigated divorce.
"Litigation" is a legal term meaning 'carrying out a lawsuit.' The detailed litigation process is the subject of another article which can be found on the blog at www.jerseyshorefamilylaw.com.
The traditional divorce and most common is the "litigated" divorce. This by no means is a suggestion that the outcome of your case will ultimately be decided by a Judge at the conclusion of a Trial. In fact, a very small percentage of divorces in New Jersey actually go to trial.
Remember, the best divorce attorneys will always strive to come to a favorable settlement with the other party. But if they can't come to a reasonable settlement or if the other party is completely unreasonable then, unfortunately, going to court, or threatening to do so, might be the only way to resolve these issues.
In many cases, the decision to divorce is unilateral –one party wants the divorce and the other does not necessarily want to proceed with a divorce. That, by its very nature, creates an adversarial situation right from the start and often disqualifies mediation and collaborative divorce, since both methods rely on the full cooperation of both parties and the voluntary disclosure of all financial information.
The most important and most difficult parts of any divorce are coming to an agreement on child custody, division of assets and liabilities and alimony payments (how much and for how long). Although you want your attorney to be a highly skilled negotiator, strong advocate, and experienced litigator, you don't want someone who is overly combative. An overly contentious approach will not only prolong the pain and substantially increase your legal fees, it will also be emotionally detrimental to everyone involved, especially the children.
Conclusion - So what do I do?
Weigh divorce options carefully. The bottom line is that every family, and every divorce, is different. Obviously, if you are able to work with your spouse to make decisions and both of you are honest and reasonable, then mediation or the collaborative method may be best. But, if you have doubts, it is good to be ready and prepared with an attorney experienced and capable of litigating your divorce.
Darren O'Toole Esq and Michael Gunteski Esq have served as Matrimonial Early Settlement Panelists in Monmouth and Ocean County. They are both experienced divorce mediators and also represent litigants who utilize the services of a divorce mediator. In addition both Darren O'Toole, Esq and Michael Gunteski, Esq are trained Collaborative Law Attorneys. They have extensive experience as family law litigators and are strong advocates for their clients.
Contact the firm if you need representation!