I just finished a 10 day divorce trial which finally settled as the 11th day was about to begin. Both clients testified, the husband was cross-examined, the wife was about to be cross-examined and the wife's expert had testified regarding special needs of their 22 year old child.
The issues in the case were all about money since both children were over 18 years of age and therefore custody was not in dispute. The main issues were spousal support, how to
divide marital assets and the
determination of separate property.
The Judge had attempted settlement discussions early in the case but at that time it was premature and since he had only heard half of the case it didn't factor in enough of the other spouse's future testimony and concerns. Only as a result of the continuation of the trial did the Judge realize that the wife's concerns were more substantial than initially portrayed by the husband. Likewise, each party began to see the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
The clients spent a tremendous amount of money disputing how much money should the husband have to pay in support for his wife, the value of his medical practice, his enhanced earnings, the wife's pre-marital stock, gifts from her family and future expenses for their children each with different special needs.
The results obtained for settlement were the product of a full day of negotiations with the help of the Judge who now had a better picture of the issues and facts of the case. Once again this trial illustrated that if both parties are reasonable and if they have the right lawyers settlement is possible. Unfortunately, they were not able to do that until they had spent a tremendous amount of time in the courthouse both before the trial and during the trial.
Clients that are reasonable in their negotiations, lawyers that want to help and a concerned judge can settle almost any case. However, if any key element is missing the battles continue.