The term “litigation” is generally interpreted as divorcing individuals who are actually in court before a judge, fighting over issues. The way most cases play out, though, is that attorneys get involved, exchange documents, have meetings, and have sessions with the forensic experts where they identify what they need to come up with values and cash-flow numbers for the earning spouse – or for both spouses if both are earning income. At that point, the attorneys then sit down outside the courtroom and attempt to negotiate a deal. From the perspective of a matrimonial attorney, litigation would solely mean fighting it out in court and forcing a judge to make a decision on one or all of the issues in your case. Since only about 1% of cases in family court in New Jersey ever go to trial, in the vast majority of situations, the divorce process does not mean that the individuals will ever have a decision made by a judge. It really is up to them: if they can cooperate and make concessions and agreements – which may not be exactly what they want, but that are palatable enough to take – they can avoid having a judge render a decision on their behalf.
Sonya K. Zeigler is a partner at Stolfe Zeigler, a boutique family law firm that obtains favorable outcomes for high-net-worth, complex, and litigious cases.