So you tried to mediate and your divorce case didn’t settle. Your lawyer sent settlement offers over and…it didn’t settle. It’s now the morning of trial, you spent most of the night tossing and turning, being nervous about tomorrows trial and then it settles the morning of trial!
This scenarios plays out every day in Minnesota divorce courts and I would like to explain why it happens and why you should be prepared to settle the case the morning of trial. The primary reasons a case will settle the morning of trial are:
1) Reality Sets In: It’s easy to talk a mean game, to threaten, to not worry about trial until you know you are going to spend the whole day in trial in a few short minutes. Often times clients refuse to believe the case is really happening and it’s not until they sit in the courtroom that reality becomes a friend of theirs again.
2) Lack of Preparation: Believe it or not some lawyers and clients do not prepare for trial. they hope the case will settle and never intend to actually go to trial. This is, of course, a bad position to be in so it is critical your divorce attorney is prepared. Yes, it will cost more (see below) but the outcome will be considerably better.
3) Money: Money and legal fees are often just abstract concepts until you start paying them or start seeing the costs associated with trial. The general rule of thumb for trial costs is that for every hour of actual trial it takes 2-3 hours of prep time. In divorce cases this means both on the front-end (getting ready for trial) and on the back-end (drafting the memorandum of law and findings of fact). Often times not going to trial, even if your lawyer has spent time preparing for it, can save thousands of dollars.
There you go, the reasons trials don’t settle prior to the morning of trial. The lesson to be learned is that you should always keep an open mind towards settlement and be prepared to settle the case prior to trial