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Divorce Practice Must Lead to Resolution of Disputes

One of the reasons that I have been a proponent of alternative dispute resolution systems in divorce (such as collaborative divorce and mediation) derives from the sheer savings that can accrue to the parties by bypassing stressful and costly litigation, and implementing cutting edge alternative strategies that lead to settlement. Divorce is rough enough on the parents…it is a difficult life transition, and when children are involved, the issues concerning custody and parenting plans can really create anxiety and stress. The lawyers should promote positive resolution of difficult issues, when possible.

The story below from California (where I started practice as a domestic violence prosecutor) illustrates what lawyers managing divorce cases should never do: aggravate the already difficult status of the divorce case with outrageous conduct.

…..San Francisco, CA……A California appellate court recently rejected the request of John Fuchs, a divorce attorney, for $250,000 in fees — and referred him to the State Bar of California for possible discipline — on the ground that his tactics in a divorce proceeding aggravated a simple case into a costly legal feud that wasted the parties’ money.

According to the court, Rochelle and John Tesoriero were about to settle their two-year-old divorce case in 2002 when attorney John Fuchs began representing the wife and provoking the other side. Among other things, Fuchs repeatedly sent nasty letters to the husband’s attorney that the court called “outrageous” (one excerpt: “perhaps we should start sending my friends, Vito and Luigi, to [John’s] house on a weekly basis.”).

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