The Scorched Earth Divorce Strategy: Why It Hurts Everyone

scorched earth divorce lawyer

With movies like Kramer v. Kramer and shows like The Practice, Hollywood has conditioned us to expect attorneys to help us with our legal issues through a long, difficult courtroom battle. No one would tune in if the show involved two people and professionals sitting down, talking, and getting along. But off-screen that type of scenario only results in a negative situation for all parties involved and their children, especially during a divorce.

When it comes to courtroom action there’s a reason those types of shows are called “courtroom dramas.” In the day to day world, there are attorneys whose go-to divorce strategy is to take the other side for all they’re worth at any cost – a sort of “scorched earth” policy. However long, drawn-out litigation is much less entertaining in real life than it is on television, taking up time, causing stress, and costing tens of thousands of dollars.

There may not be any punching or hitting physically but there is a metaphorical boxing match that will take place. In the end, no one really wins and respect for one another goes out the window. If a divorce lawyer’s immediate strategy is to go to a drawn-out legal battle it’s likely your best interests aren’t in mind. There are times when this option is the only one, but those are rare instances and shouldn’t be the first choice of how to move forward with a divorce.

Alternative Divorce Options

There is an alternative to a litigation-heavy divorce practice. Instead of fighting to the point where there is nothing left, you can choose to work with a team of attorneys that believes in working together with the other side toward the best possible outcome. These attorneys prefer to work with individuals who wish to maintain a mutual respect.

People generally marry for love and while divorce may wind up being the path it leads to, it doesn’t have to mean they hate each other or end things in an embittered fight. They simply aren’t in love anymore or able to work together as a team under the same roof. Being together may no longer be an option, but parting ways without causing additional damage and stress to their lives is possible.  

In New Jersey, your divorce lawyer may mention mediation or collaborative divorce. Both of these options create an amicable divorce, or the type of divorce process that leaves you and your ex as cooperative parties instead of enemies. Mediation is where you and your spouse sit with a person who is a qualified mediator as well as your attorneys (or, in some cases, without attorneys).

Together, with the mediator, you come up with a plan. This plan includes division of your assets, child custody, and spousal and child support. Both you and your ex will sign the plan and then your attorneys can take you to court to finalize your uncontested divorce.

If a mediation is not exactly how you wish to proceed, you and your spouse can choose collaborative divorce. Collaborative divorce allows both parties to sit with a team and work together from the beginning of the process through the very end.  In collaborative divorce, just as in mediation, everything is done privately instead of in a courtroom.

Divorce lawyers in New Jersey that are part of a collaborative practice often work with other neutral individuals such as mental health professionals to assist in the emotional aspects of divorce and custody and parenting time issues, and financial experts who develop agreed-upon versions of your finances. Each professional has a role to play in helping move the process along. Topics are discussed in a relaxed setting and personal attacks are avoided. Through this process, a settlement agreement can be completed while leaving your mutual respect and ability to co-parent intact.

In the end, you may only need about 15 minutes in court to finalize your divorce and you are off onto your new life while still having fond memories of your old one.

Amicable Divorces Save Money and Heartache

Amicable divorces aren’t for everyone. Some people have reached the point where they simply can’t get along at all. They can’t agree on anything and are willing to go to court to battle for what they deem to be fair. But most people don’t want to fight, especially when children are involved.  

Both mediation and collaborative divorce are much less costly than the divorce a scorched earth policy will be. Filings with the court and your divorce attorney’s time have been known to run upwards of tens of thousands of dollars during litigation. In contrast, mediation and collaborative divorce in New Jersey cost considerably less, and result in higher quality, more lasting and durable agreements.

Another benefit to amicable divorce processes is the effect it has on your children. Children are harmed by seeing their parents fighting or disrespecting each other and it can be difficult when they feel as though they have to pick sides.  An intense courtroom-focused divorce adds significantly to the tension children feel and make it harder for them to process the new changes in their lives.

Amicable divorce is also better for your health. The stress and anger that is involved in a contested divorce can lead to severe health issues. Some stress is unavoidable during a divorce, but you can take steps to keep that stress to a minimum for yourself and your children.

Keith Family Law specializes in amicable divorce practices. We believe divorce can take place between two people who mutually respect one another but need to move on from being married. We have seen many spouses part ways without needing to go through the stress and heartache of litigation.

If you’re in need of a divorce attorney that can help you achieve an amicable divorce through mediation or collaborative divorce, contact us today.

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