Some divorce battles are inevitable. The parties are far apart in their positions and there is too much hostility to compromise. However, while litigation may be necessary to decide the issues, the parties can and should try to cooperate as much as possible during the divorce process. If they argue over every aspect of the case, they will not only spend significant time and money, but they risk alienating the judge.
When a divorce is litigated, there are numerous court filings that may be needed. For each issue being disputed, there may be motions requesting information from the other side, contesting the request, asking for a hearing or decision, and other matters. These filings are time-consuming and costly to prepare and respond to for the parties, the judge and the court system. Unfortunately, in some divorces, motion practice becomes a way for a spouse to drag out the proceedings and wear down the other side. Alternatively, the spouses are driven by their emotions to argue over every issue no matter how insignificant in order to be proven right, regardless of the cost. However, the courts are adversely impacted by these actions and can hold it against the parties.
New York law and judges encourage spouses to settle their disputes on their own. When that doesn’t happen, the parties are still expected to refrain from excessive and unnecessary filings and delays. Parties who deliberately prolong litigation can antagonize the judge, which can ultimately hurt the case of the spouse responsible for most of the delays. Judges have significant discretion in divorce cases and can reasonably decide to limit or deny motions based on a party’s behavior in excessively filing.
The solution to this is for the parties to be willing to work together to resolve at least some disputes on their own without court intervention. These opportunities arise regularly over the course of litigation. For instance, the parties may have filed previous motions about a particular matter, but a new related issue arises. Rather than both sides filing another set of motions, they can try to address it amongst themselves first. This avoids additional delays in the case and relieves the judge of getting involved in every single issue.
All conflicts are not created equally. The parties and their attorneys should discuss what matters are most important and where compromise is acceptable to avoid unnecessary court intervention. A good attorney advocates for clients both in court and out of court to achieve the best outcome. If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss how we can help you in your matter.