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The Immeasurable Cost of a Lawsuit

"A lawsuit is to ordinary life what war is to peacetime." - Janet Malcom

Something that doesn't get talked about enough is the immeasurable cost of a lawsuit and that is the stress, anxiety, and overall effect on a person's day-to-day life. Now I am not a mental therapist nor am I able to diagnose the symptoms of mental illnesses, but I can speak from experience as someone who helps guide people through very mentally taxing times. Legal action, regardless of which side you are on, creates a certain aura in your life, a dark cloud so to speak. It may not always be directly over your head but it is always looming.


Family law cases in particular have a higher than normal cost on a person's well-being. This should go without saying since you are dealing with ending marriages, children's timeshare schedules, parenting plans, and other issues that have direct involvement in a person's personal life. A divorce case with minor children, for example, has multiple high-stress factors at play; a romantic relationship ending, children being involved in the action, assets being divided, and joint lives being fractured into two separate ones once more. Add to the pot a combative opposing attorney and an unreasonable spouse and you have the perfect mix for feeling overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, and uncertain of the future. I call this "the immeasurable cost."


Despite warnings from attorneys, some people believe they will be in and out of a lawsuit in a matter of weeks or a few short months. In a perfect world, this would be the case, but unfortunately, the reality is typically just the opposite. Often, cases take months to potentially years to resolve, especially cases that are high in complexity and low in reasonableness. So what does a person do when they are stuck in one of these cases? The first step is for the person to evaluate their claim from an objective standpoint to identify and make sure the unreasonableness in the case isn't being caused by their own actions. Next, the person needs to assign a value to "the immeasurable cost," to give it some sort of worth that can be judged next to the dollar values and other issues in their particular case. From there, a discussion between the person and their lawyer needs to occur to determine what could be done to wrap the case up via settlement.


Many people falter when coming up with potential settlement ideas due to wanting to continue the case "for the principle of the matter." Principles, while noble and often morally right, are expensive. Not just in terms of attorney's fees but in terms of "the immeasurable cost." As emotional beings, we tend to get focused on particular aspects of our disputes and begin to block out the big picture. In lawsuits, sometimes it is the better option to take the high road, make a concession of something you believe you are entitled to due to "the principle", and settle and move on from the case. The relief of being through with a legal matter cannot be overstated, and as long as the concession isn't something that is inadvisable by the attorney, it often is going to be the right strategy to get the person moving forward with their future.


Lawsuits are but a blip in the grand scheme of a person's life, but the longer they linger the longer they stand a chance to create a permanent effect on a person's outlook and personality. Sometimes it is a worthwhile option to settle for less or concede a certain point in order to bring a case to a close. It takes high emotional intelligence to make this determination and as long as the person's lawyer is okay with the concession and agrees that the cost/benefit of the move is not prejudicing the person then I see no issue with these types of plans. So before getting involved in a legal action, be sure to take a step back and evaluate what the effect of "the immeasurable cost" will be on your own well-being, and remember to include this cost when determining what strategy to use moving forward within your case.






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