Divorce Negotiation Rule Eight - Never Get Personal
There is a scene in the Godfather movie where a character is about to be wiped out by the mob. One of the henchman tells the victim that the Godfather wants him to know that it is not personal, it is just business.
Clearly, much of what is happening in the divorce is personal between the parties. It should never be personal between the attorneys, no matter how sensitive or important the issues.
Many times, this is not a problem. The vast majority of the lawyers I deal with are pleasant and many I consider friends. It is only a very small minority where it really takes an effort to maintain civility.
Nonetheless, there is no point in being hostile. In nearly 20 years of practice, I have never had a confrontational conversation with an attorney who said the following: "Gregg, I am wrong, you are right. Can you forgive me for taking such a silly position?"
A good rule: Never fight a battle when the best you can do is tie. In court, with a judge present, there is at least a chance of winning, In private discussions with the other lawyer, there is absolutely no chance. At best, there will be a standoff.
There are times where, in order to control my temper (my wife will be surprised to learn that I even have a temper), I terminate a conversation. Yet, even an abrupt termination of a conversation is preferable to saying what may be on my mind.
The bottom line is simple: You cannot settle a case if you do not talk to the other side.
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Basic Principles of Law for Construing Separation Agreements
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