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To Litigate or Negotiate? Family Law Realities

Sometimes, the best efforts of litigators, mediators and counselors to effect an agreed outcome in a family law case aren't successful. This can happen for any number of reasons, some seemingly petty, some of grave importance. A few of the reasons I've seen over the years are:

1. Intractability born of emotional reaction to the underlying relationship of the parties;

2. Firm belief that something unacceptable is occurring with regard to the other party's parenting, whether true or not;

3. Mistaken assumptions based on half truths about something occurring in the other party's home;

4. An inability to cope with the economic consequences of the division of households, whether perceived or real;

5. Bitterness or jealously regarding the positive occurrences in the life of the other party;

6.  Manipulation of perceptions by adolescent children of the parties or a new significant other; and

7. Unrealistic expectations on whether or not continuing obligations will arise from the matter under litigation, together with mistaken estimates of the extent of the financial ability of the other party to meet the demand.

More often than not, skilled attorneys can assist their arriving at a reasonable stance after taking an extreme position, however, this is not always possible. At some point,attorney and client will have to conclude that further negotiation and compromise are fruitless, and that litigation will be necessary to force the recalcitrant litigant to prove their legal and factual point.

Skilled counsel can assist a family law litigant in knowing when to stop negotiating - from the client standpoint, significant maturity and a desire to resolve the issue with finality can help this process move in a positive fashion, and a continued commitment to basic civility while conducting litigation can ameliorate the stresses which arise from the conflict.

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