Are There Winners After Trial

Last week I had two major divorce cases scheduled for trial. Each one had different custody issues, different child support and maintenance questions, different clients, different assets and different needs. Yet they all had one thing in common. A trial was scheduled because settlement negotiations had failed.

As a practicing attorney for over 30 years and exclusively handling family law matters for over 23 years, I have a lifetime of experience advising and representing clients. The judge on one of the cases spoke to the clients and urged them to resolve their differences.

The judge told the clients that if you don't like each other now, it will be worse after trial. Once each person takes the stand and tells the judge how bad the marriage was, how poorly the other person parented, how they were abused whether physically, emotionally or financially, claims that money was wasted or hidden, why they should get more or pay less there will be no winners.

While it is true that the judge will make a decision based upon what is believed to be shown by the evidence, determining the credibility of the witnesses and applying the law, nevertheless the judge will never know each person as well as they know each other or themselves. Many a judge has told clients if you want someone who knows you for three days to decide the major issues of your future life involving finances and your children, go right ahead but judges are not perfect and they do not have infinite amounts of time to get every detail analyzed and decided. Clients are far more capable of negotiating carefully written agreements with many alternatives provided.

So, while there may be a "winner" if the judge orders someone to pay more or to receive less, there will always be damage, perhaps permanent, to the relationships of the parties with each other and perhaps with their children.