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To Settle – or go to Trial

To Settle – or go to Trial

Often litigants are faced with making the decision of settling a divorce matter under their agreed upon terms or taking the case to trial to be heard and decided by the Judge.

The decision is certainly not always clear, but from a practitioner’s standpoint there are numerous factors for a client to consider:

Is my unwillingness to settle the case due to bitterness or hurt feelings? :

Always assess the situation and determine if your unwillingness to settle is the result of your hurt feelings or even feelings of bitterness. If so, as hard as it is to put your feelings aside and look at the actual issues, sometimes once this is done it becomes much easier to see what is actually important and worth fighting over.

Cost of Trial:

Keep in mind that in many cases the cost of trial can exceed the value of the assets or issue in dispute. Trial can and does often cost tens of thousands of dollars. This is an extremely important factor to keep in mind when considering trial over settlement.

Giving the Judge the final say:

Always remember that up until trial, you and your spouse retain the final decision making authority regarding your entire case. However this all changes the moment you decide to go to trial. By going to trial you are telling the Court that despite your best efforts you were unable to come to terms on resolving the issues and therefore need the Judge to decide them for you. Be aware that you still may not be necessarily pleased with the Judge’s decision post-trial. By going to trial you are essentially giving up your right to retain control over the outcome of your case, and instead placing the decision making authority in the Judge’s hands. You are in essence asking the Judge to determine the terms by which you will ultimately have to live by.


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