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Spouses who are involved in a matrimonial dispute often appear to make a conscious decision to increase their legal costs.  Hostile and malicious behavior significantly increases the expense of a matrimonial case.  Yet, spouses often pursue such behavior in the face of this reality.

Matrimonial attorneys are usually compensated on a “time” basis.  The cost of the service is the number of hours multiplied times the hourly rate, plus “out-of-pocket” disbursements such as filing fees.  Clients are billed for consultation time, telephone time, correspondence time, court time, etc.  Here is some behavior which is guaranteed to increase your legal costs:

1. Hide or dispose of your spouse’s personal papers or cassette tapes, clothing , or any item which has sentimental value.

This behavior will generate considerable telephone traffic between opposing counsel as well as follow up letters, emails, threats of litigation and perhaps one or more expensive motions to the court.

2. Bad-mouth your spouse in front of the children.

There are few legal battles as potentially harmful and expensive as a custody/visitation dispute.  Unfortunately, parents often forget all the rules of parenting in order to “get back” at the other parent.  Children have rights too!

3. Refuse to continue, within reason, the financial status quo while negotiation is proceeding.

Many families living in Westchester County cannot afford to maintain two separate Westchester households.  Unfortunately, the break-up of a marriage often results in the financial disruption of the family.  The law requires a reasonable and proper level of spousal and child support.  It is usually less costly in the long run to negotiate a temporary level of reasonable maintenance and/or child support, rather than empowering a court to establish the level of support.

4. Refuse to negotiate in good faith.

The true cost of litigation is measured in loss of time, the diversion of energy and in emotional, as well as in legal costs.  The inability to “settle” often requires time consuming and expensive legal activities such as depositions, (oral examination under oath), response to interrogatories, demands for discovery and inspection (written demands for the production of written materials), and the service of third-party subpoenas (to banks, brokerage firms, shopkeepers, etc.)

There are many other hostile acts which will increase the financial and emotional cost of a matrimonial dispute.  A little common sense and self-control will go a long way in lowering the cost of a matrimonial dispute.