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Dear Reader,

There are two times in a divorce case when emotions and tensions run extremely high. You might guess when those are, but allow me to offer you some tips in this area if you are contemplating a divorce or going through one. Think of the divorce process as a continuum, with a beginning and an end. Now, imagine that continuum as a graph with spikes where emotions and tensions run the highest. The spikes will likely occur just after the initial pleadings have been filed, and then again right before the case is resolved and a settlement reached. Why did I pick these two places on the continuum? With uncanny precision, those same spikes occur in just about the same places in almost every case.

Once the initial pleadings are filed, the reality of the impending divorce has set in. The initial shock, anger, or hurt that a person feels when divorce is initiated has numbed a bit. It is then that a party’s thought process starts to change from being part of an intact family towards the independent person they will soon become after the divorce. Survival instincts kick in and the common pronound in a marriage, “we,” instinctively starts becoming “I.” Will I be okay financially after the divorce? Will I have custody of the children? etc. Emotions kick up as each party starts vying for a position at a time when they do not understand the divorce process or the laws that govern divorces in New Jersey. It is extremely important to STOP and take a deep breath. Reassess what is important to you, and what kind of a person you want your children to see when life hands you a curve ball. First, not only will the issues incident to divorce be resolved one way or another, but you need to give the process a chance to work. Second, when you “buck” the system, it can eat you alive – motions get filed, animosity and resentment deepen, counsel fees increase and both parties become firmly entrenched in their positions. Take the time to refocus your thoughts and keep a diary, including questions for your attorney. Do not react and engage the other party simply based on your emotions.

The second time the highest spike of emotions occurs is right before a case settles (and most all do). At this juncture, both parties are anxious for the divorce to be over. The Court has moved the parties through dispute resolution events such as the Early Settlement Panel, Economic Mediation, and a Settlement Conference to try and nudge them towards settlement. The “I want” and “I need” are at their all-time high and both parties are understandably frustrated. Again, STOP and reassess. Review your diary and think about issues that you might be able to compromise on to move the case forward. Sometimes even the smallest overtures can get the job done. Always put yourself in the other party’s shoes, as it is only then that you can really understand how to resolve the conflicts holding up a settlement.

Call me today to come in for your free initial consultation. Until next month, SSC.

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