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Ep. 87 – To Litigate or Not to Litigate

Sometimes after divorce there are certain issues that may require the courts attention. However deciding to go back to court is a decision that requires real thought considering the cost both financially and emotionally. Come listen to this episode where we explore this further.


Doreen: Hey, my beautiful friends, and how are you? We are moving into episode number 87, which is gonna be about to litigate or not to litigate. That is a question, and so if you are ready, let’s find out the answer.

Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaffa and Jeff Wilson, and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you deserve and desire. As partners both in marriage and coaching, we use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter

Hey, Jeff.

Jeff: Hey, how are you?

Doreen: I’m good. How are you?

Jeff: Good. Fantastic.

Doreen: Good. So what’s going on?

Jeff: Well, there’s a lot going on. How about those Florida basketball teams?

Doreen: Yeah, we’re watching March Madness and down to the final four. So we got F A U, which is my alumni and Florida Atlantic University. And we also have University of Miami, which my mom used to work at the school.

My sister went to school there. So yeah, we’ve got some great Florida teams. Who knows, maybe they’re going to be in the final two.

Jeff: Well, that’s my prediction. University of Miami against Florida Atlantic.

Doreen: Yeah, that would be very interesting. Anyhow, so today we’re gonna talk about to litigate or not to litigate.

And really I’m focused in here or we’re focused in here on post divorce.  After you’ve already resolved your case, either by going to court or settlement, you know, most cases settle and some things come up, right? There’s an issue with enforcement. Maybe your ex is not complying. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement or the final judgment.

And you have to make a decision. Well, you don’t have to, right?

Jeff: Well, no. If you decide not to make a decision, you still have decided not to.

Doreen: Yeah. And you can also make a decision later if you wanna move forward with enforcement or modifying your agreement or whatever that looks like. So the first thing I wanna advise our listeners is you wanna seek legal advice.

So, you know, we’re in Florida and I’m not going to provide any legal advice. I’m just gonna provide more bigger concepts, maybe from a legal standpoint, but seek legal advice. So we have basically five different points to make about whether to pursue a post-judgment action or not to litigate or not. And the first one is, Are you doing this?

In other words, what is the purpose of potentially pursuing this action. So let’s just say that, I’ll give you a few examples. Let’s just say that your ex and you have a parenting plan or a custody arrangement is not complying with that plan, bringing the child home late,  you know, whatever that might be in your parenting, not, not living up to the terms of, you know, what days are yours, what day are his or hers, et cetera, et cetera, whatever it is in your parenting plan.

Or let’s say you have an issue where your ex is not paying you the support that they’re supposed to be paying, that would be another potential litigation case, or let’s say your circumstances have changed and you now are required to pay support, but you got sick or you have some other issue that you’re dealing with that was unforeseen at the time that you entered into the agreement so that now you cannot pay what you were, you are required to pay.

Or maybe, another example might be that your ex has decided they are pursuing something against you. And that’s really a different, a different episode, how to deal with that because the decision in that case has already been made, right? The person has decided that they wanna litigate. And let’s say you got served with papers on that particular action.

So this really is if you are going to pursue something. So the first thing is,

Jeff: Why?

Doreen: Why? Why are you doing this?

Jeff: Why are you doing this?

Doreen: Are you doing it purely for the purposes of enforcing your agreement, right? Or are you doing it maybe because you’re upset or you’re a vengeful, meaning you’re looking for a revenge?

Or maybe it’s because you truly have a viable goal to change something in your agreement or to enforce something, you know, what is the purpose? And that re really requires just doing what? Sitting down.

Jeff: Sitting down. You know, what I would do is what, Benjamin Franklin did. Was, he would write out a piece of paper and write a line, write down the middle of the paper.

And he would put yes on one side, no on the other side. And decide and list why he would do it and why he wouldn’t do it. Right. And then at the end of the list, you decide whether you’re gonna go forward or not.

Doreen: Right. So really understanding your purpose is your number one thing. The second thing is what Jeff?

Jeff: It’s how much is it gonna cost.

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: The cost of everything.

Doreen: What will the cost be? And here I’m talking about actual dollars, you know. So the first thing you wanna ask yourself is, and this is probably a good question for a lawyer, that I’m sure you’ll seek legal advice on. And always ask this question, how much do you anticipate that this action is gonna cost me?

Give me the high, give me the low, under the best case scenario. Under the worst case scenario, and I would suggest that the worst case scenario would be going to trial on the issue, not resolving it beforehand. How much would it cost to take it all the way through to a trial, to a hearing on the issue?

And then you wanna look at, when you look at that money cost, what will I get out of it? Right? If I’m looking to pursue a reimbursement as an example for outstanding amounts that your ex owes you, because let’s say he or she is required to split pay 50% of certain out-of-pocket pocket expenses. For the child, for your child, how much are you speaking about?

Right? If you’re talking about $50, a hundred dollars, maybe even a thousand dollars, you wanna know what you’re going to get out of it. So you’ve got the cost of the litigation. The second thing is, and you want the high and low on that. The second thing is

Jeff: What are you gonna get out of it?

Doreen: Right. What is your benefit if you prevail?

If everything goes in your favor, what are you gonna get monetarily from it? Or maybe it’s not money. Maybe it’s an enforcement of a custody arrangement. And then the third part is..

Jeff: Cost benefit.

Doreen: Right. So sit down there, look at this as a business decision. Try as best as you can to keep the emotions out of it when you are doing the analysis that we’re suggesting today.

Because once you start putting emotion into it, you’re unable to think rationally. Cost benefit.

Jeff: And how do you figure in the cost emotionally?

Doreen: Well, we haven’t gotten there yet.

Jeff:  Okay. Cuz I mean, that doesn’t that pertain to the benefit as you worth it?

Doreen: Well, hat’s number three.

Jeff: There you go.

Doreen: You’re jumping ahead.

Jeff: Okay.

Doreen: You gotta follow the plan here.

Jeff: Progressive thinking.

Doreen: Yes. So what’s number three? Jeff?

Jeff: Number three is what will it cost me emotionally?

Doreen:  All right.

Jeff: There you go.

Doreen: So let me just recap. The first thing we did was, why am I doing this right? Okay. The second thing we do is what is it going to cost us money wise, dollars and cents versus what you could potentially get your high and your low. And the third thing is..

Jeff: What is it gonna cost me emotionally?

Doreen: Correct. And when we look at what it’s gonna cost you emotionally, the types of things that I would suggest, the first thing is placing of value on what is going to do to you emotionally to pursue litigation is something that I really want you to consider, right?

Because looking at just the dollars, is one thing, but looking at what it’s going to cost you emotionally is another thing. It’s going to take you some emotional energy to be involved in litigation. Right. To pursue this. So you wanna place a value on that. The second thing is what Jeff?

Jeff: It’s gonna take your energy away.

Doreen: Right. From what?

Jeff: From your focus on life after divorce.

Doreen: Exactly. So is it worth it? When you look at the totality of it emotionally to pursue this action because you’re going to now be using emotional energy. Not just dollars outta your pocket to now take that energy and focus in on pursuing the litigation.

Even if you have a lawyer, you need to work with your lawyer, right? You’ll be involved probably in depositions. You’ll be involved in reviewing documents and giving approvals on things You’ll be involved in potentially going to court. You obviously are going to be now in a different type of relationship with your ex.


Jeff: Right.

Doreen: Because you’re gonna be in a different type of relationship because number one, if you have children and you’re pursuing something with your ex, you have a co-parenting relationship. How is that emotionally gonna affect your relationship with your ex? If you don’t have children, maybe it’s an easier decision, and then you wanna do that cost benefit analysis.

When you look at the emotional cost, right?

Jeff: Yep. You know, you’ve spent a lot of time after the divorce healing, getting the sense of normality back into your life and even probably have been doing amazing after divorce. Are you willing to take that chance to go backwards? Right. And to say, opened up that wound again?

Doreen: Well, that’s absolutely what you’re doing.

Jeff: Yeah. So it’s one that’s part of the cost benefit to realize is it really worth that?

Doreen: Right. And that’s really a decision that you have to make for yourself and it’s something that you don’t wanna just do a reaction to, you know, in other words, you wanna really contemplate before you start litigating post divorce.

All of these different ideas that we’re explaining because many times I have clients call me and they’re like, oh, he was late today bringing the kids home. Let’s file an action. I’m like, wait a second. You know, you’re only a month after the divorce. Maybe we need to start with a letter. Maybe you need to communicate with him.

I have you know, we have podcasts on how to really communicate with your ex. So maybe you wanna take a deep breath.

Jeff: And the next thing, number four, we have, how long do you think it will take?

Doreen: Right, and this is a question for your lawyer as well. How long is it gonna take me to pursue this action, assuming that I have to take it all the way through to going to a hearing or trial on it?

How long is it gonna take? Now your lawyer should be able to give you good advice on that, and it’ll depend on how backed up your family court is. How they run their cases, post-judgment, all of these types of things, and maybe potentially even the lawyer’s schedule. So you wanna know, it’s gonna take me, you know, in our cases here in Florida, I would suggest that if somebody’s pursuing something, you’re looking at probably six months to a year and likely closer to a year to get a hearing date is just the way it is because the family court is backed up. In South County, meaning Palm Beach, south County. If it’s north end, the North Palm Beach end, it’s a little sooner. So you really wanna know how long are you gonna be involved in this, because obviously that is time that you’re gonna be thinking about it pursuing it and that energy is spent there.

Jeff: Not to mention time is money.

Doreen: And time is money. Very good, right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Doreen: All right,

Jeff: So well number five, all we do, we want to take all the things that we’ve considered and come to a decision.

Doreen: And I really think that it’s just a matter of really trying to clearly understand all of the things we talked about today.

Just before you jump into it, you might decide when you analyze this and you really think about the cost benefit of pursuing litigation post divorce, you know, you might decide, Hmm, this is not really a good time, or you might decide, Well, yes, he owes me or she owes me X amount of dollars back, but I’d rather wait a few months.

Maybe he’s going to pay, let me try to pursue that, or maybe he’s not gonna pay. I’ll have more things that he’s gonna owe me on. A greater amount’s gonna be due, so let’s wait six months and do it all in one shot instead of piecemealing it. And that’s just some examples of things. So our episode today is kind of short and sweet.

It’s really just about thinking about things, you know, using that prefrontal cortex, that human brain that we have to analyze decisions in our life and to come to a place of what do we want the results to be and how do we get there. Really, that’s what we’re trying, that’s what we teach with regard to coaching.

Anyhow. It’s using your prefrontal cortex instead of your primitive brain that says, you know what? He owes me the money and I’m entitled to this. Or she brought the kids home late. And so, you know, let me just go litigate. No.

Jeff: Are there other options that they can do before litigating?

Doreen: Sure. Like of course they can. And that’s part of the decision making that you have to look at as well is you know, should I try to really sit down with my ex and see if we can come to terms on this? And again, we have an episode about communicating and really opening up that door of listening.

Jeff: Yes. Episode number 77, when we talk about responding versus reacting.

Doreen: Yeah, I think there’s some good advice in there. At least I hope there is.

Jeff: I believe there is.

Doreen: About really trying to get to common ground with your ex before you know, it gets outta control and before you litigate. But you had asked if there’s something that they can do before actually filing, you know, a cause of action.

The answer is yes. You can sit down with your ex, you can speak with a lawyer and get advice because I think understanding it from a legal perspective is important. And I would venture to say that there are many lawyers out there that do family law that would not charge you for a consultation. So look for those people.

Make sure they’re qualified in family law and post divorce work and then do the analysis today that we talked about, you know? But for example, sometimes people will come to me as a lawyer in, they’ll ask, they’ll tell me about what’s going on in their case, and I’ll say, let’s just try a letter first.

Let’s see. You’ve tried to work things out. Okay. We have that in place. Let me see if I can draft a letter and get this person’s attention and explain that we’re gonna likely have to move forward. Now, the only thing I say is that the way I litigate or the way that I pursue family cases, I like to put something in there that says, if we don’t hear from you by this date, then we’ll do this.

You wanna be ready to do that. You don’t want to, you know, call, you don’t want to cry wolf.

Jeff: Yeah. False threats.

Doreen: Yeah. So, you know, just be very on point with that, with your lawyer if you’re doing it yourself. And that’s it. So I know these things happen after divorce, if you have children, especially that you are going to have some bumps along the way.

We’ll also suggest that just based on my own experience, you know, talking about parenting plans for a minute, they, in custody arrangements, they do change the needs of the children as they get older, when they get involved in more activities, when they start driving, you know, whatever it is. Sometimes the visitation schedule needs to be altered, and I would suggest that having a good co-parenting relationship will promote that in an easier way than having to ask the courts to help you.

The last thing the courts wanna do, in here in Florida, especially, you know, I’m only talking about Florida, but I think in most states is be involved in post-judgment issues with parents regarding children because they can’t micromanage it, you know, but they can certainly enforce what needs to be enforced.

You just want some clear understandings. All right, everybody,

Jeff: It was great. Thank you very much.

Doreen: Thank you very much.

Jeff: Yeah. I’d like to hear from some people out there if they like to, you know, communicate with us. They can shoot us an email at [email protected] and or [email protected].

Doreen: That’s life after

Jeff: That’s it.

Doreen: Do you have anything that you would like us to think about bringing to our listeners? We are so open to hearing from you. And in the meantime, listen, have an amazing week. Think about things. Set your goals, being kind to yourself. Please be kind to yourself and we will see you next week.

Jeff: Next week.

Doreen: Bye everybody.

Jeff: Bye-Bye. You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit us at That’s L A D as in life after divorce dash

Doreen: Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day. And remember, yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce.

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