Eric Solotoff, a partner in our Roseland, New Jersey office and editor of our New Jersey Family Law Blog recently posted a blog entry on bad faith negotiating and its detrimental effect on settling cases. Eric’s point is well taken: there are times in family law cases when people lose sight of their goals and try to land a (proverbial) shot on the other person. Empty demands, veiled threats, and open hostility become the rules of the game rather than honest discussions on finding a resolution and that rarely leads to a satisfying outcome for either side or their counsel.

The new client walks in the door, obviously nervous about his or her case being the subject of a public trial in the county courthouse.

The first thing I tell them is that most third parties are not interested in their divorce case.

The second thing I say is that most of the cases I handle resolve without the need for substantial litigation, although there may be a hearing or two along the way.

However, most recently I have found that I am trying a few more cases than usual, and I’m winning.  I’m not saying that so that readers will think: I’ve got to have Charlie Meyer as my lawyer.  My real point is that, while I have written in the past on the importance of professionalism and civility in the practice of law, especially in domestic relations practice, I now am finding that lawyers are taking positions they cannot possibly defend and upon which they cannot prevail.

I am reminded of the time when, as a young lawyer, I met with an "experienced" (read "older") lawyer in his storefront office to discuss a support matter.  It obviously was a case which would be decided under the Guidelines.  But to my surprise, his position was that "he didn’t use ‘those’ guidelines".  Needless to say, we went to court, and the guidelines were applied.

This story is illustrative of what I am finding more and more in my practice.

Continue Reading Not Just Civility, But Reasonableness in Practice