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How to Help Settle Your Divorce Case

Nov 15, 2023 | Written by: William J. Rudnik, Esq. |

As it takes two people to get married, it takes two people to get divorced.  To settle your divorce case, it takes two people being reasonable and compromising.  So how can you, as a client, help to settle your divorce case?

  1. Hire an attorney who strives to settle your case. While you want an attorney who will support your positions and go to battle for you when needed, ultimately you want a peace treaty (settlement agreement) rather than a war (litigated divorce with a trial).  Research your attorney, check out reviews, and ask for references.  You can even ask for references from other attorneys.  Ask potential attorneys some questions about how they handle their cases.  Hire an attorney who will guide you in a manner that will result in a fair settlement while expending the least amount in attorney fees. You do not want an attorney who will give you unrealistic expectations as to what will happen in the case or make any guarantees. 
  1. Maintain a reasonable position on issues. Ask your attorney to give you an honest opinion as to whether you are being reasonable or not.  While your attorney should already do this, make sure to ask your attorney to share his/her opinion on the likely outcome if you were to go to court and have a judge decide the issues.  The likely outcome and how close you are to that position should help gauge whether you are being reasonable or not.  There are certain realities in the judicial system, and you want your attorney to advise you of the realistic outcomes and the “bad news” if different from your expectations.
  1. Keep your focus on the bigger picture. Think about your position and the process each step of the way, and whether/ how it will help bring a resolution to the case. Continue to have a dialogue with your attorney about each step in the process, about positions on temporary issues, and about positions on the final resolution.  Focusing on smaller, temporary issues can result in wasting time and money and may not further the cause of the final resolution.  Having your attorney send nasty letters full of vitriol and emotion to the other side will not help settle your case. 
  1. Consider the factors of time, money and stress. Divorces can take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and result in an enormous amount of stress.  However, they do not have to be that way, and not every divorce falls into that category.  When considering how to settle your case, keep that in mind.  Find out from your attorney if you do not settle, how long will the case take? How much time will you have to take off from work or from other activities to deal with the case? How much will the case cost to bring to a conclusion through trial?  Your attorney cannot tell you the amount of stress that the case will cause you, but certainly the longer the case goes on, the more time and money you will spend and the greater the amount of stress.  Stress can take a toll on health and also ruin what could potentially be quality time with children, family and friends.  Do not underestimate the value of saving time, money and stress by being reasonable and settling early in the process.  
  1. Use alternative dispute resolutions to help settle your case. Alternative dispute resolutions include mediation, collaborative divorce, and arbitration.  They are basically alternative means to reach a resolution or decision in a divorce case, without having a trial and a judge deciding the issues.  In certain New Jersey counties, including Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren, there are no trials at this point in time, so even if you wanted a trial, you would be waiting years to get to that point. 
  •     Mediation is a process where a neutral third party (usually a family law attorney or retired judge) is hired to help the parties reach a resolution. Mediation can include just the parties themselves, or the parties and their attorneys.  The mediator does not provide legal advice, but can provide creative alternatives that neither the parties nor their attorneys considered, and can also provide a reality check in the event one party and/or attorney is being unreasonable. 
  •     Collaborative divorce is a process where the parties and their attorneys sign an agreement that if they cannot resolve the case and it needs to proceed in litigation, both parties will need to obtain new attorneys. This results in the parties and the attorneys being invested in the process of trying to settle the case.  The parties and their attorneys have a series of meetings where they work on trying to settle the case.  If any experts are required, they are hired jointly. 
  •     With arbitration, the parties hire someone to act as a judge and make binding decisions. Typically, either an experienced family law attorney or a retired judge will be hired as an arbitrator.  Arbitration is a process similar to a trial in court, but it can take place much sooner and in a much shorter period of time.  Although the parties share in the cost of the arbitrator, in most cases it will result in a lower total cost than proceeding with a trial because of the savings on attorney fees.

Each of these alternative dispute resolutions are designed to help the parties reach a resolution that saves time and expense.  Make sure to discuss these options with your attorney and utilize any process that will help to resolve your case.

The above five suggestions may seem fairly basic, but they are important and can help you conclude your divorce case.  While you cannot control the other party, the opposing attorney, or the court, you can control whether you are reasonable in trying to settle the case.  Ultimately, even if the case does not settle, you will know you did everything possible on your end to try to bring the case to a fair resolution.

If you want more advice/recommendations or further explanation of these suggestions, please contact me via email or at 908-735-5161.


William J. Rudnik, Esq. is a partner with Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC.  He is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.  In addition to handling divorce litigation, he is qualified as a Mediator in the field of Family Law under the New Jersey Court rules, and he is trained in Collaborative Divorce. Contact Mr. Rudnik at 908-735-5161 or via email.

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Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.