Litigation (resolving the divorce through the Court system) is the method most people first consider for resolving their divorce. Divorcing people can be very angry and distrustful toward each other, so it may be difficult to imagine any other method. Litigation is an adversarial process. The parties are opponents, as are their respective attorneys if they are represented by counsel. While many litigation cases can be settled with good faith negotiation on both sides, there are also many cases that cannot be resolved except by going to Court. If the parties are able to settle out of Court, they may have some control over how their case is resolved. Negotiated settlements often are structured keeping in mind what the Judge might do. If the case is not settled, the parties give up control of their case to the Judge, who will decide what happens. This is part of why going to Court can be so intimidating and frightening for people going through divorce, especially if they go without an attorney.
Representing a client in a litigation case involves knowledge of law and procedure that applies to the client’s situation, experience in handling family law hearings and trials, as well as strong advocacy and strategic planning in the face of strong opposition. I work with my litigation clients to form a plan for how the case will be handled, including obtaining information through formal or informal discovery, making and responding to settlement proposals, engaging experts as needed, negotiating with the other attorney or self-represented party, planning examination of witnesses, and representing the client at trial or other Court hearings.
I have extensive family law litigation experience, and enjoy the individualized planning that each new case requires. I also enjoy presenting my clients’ cases at Court, planning their testimony, drafting their documents and cross examining adverse witnesses. Although litigation takes place within the rigid framework of the legal system, it also is a creative process that can involve new ways of obtaining and presenting information, and new methods of advocacy on a client’s behalf.
Although litigation is an adversarial process, my legal adversaries are not my personal enemies. It is challenging to remain on civil terms with one’s opponents, even in the heat of battle, but I believe the challenge is well worth it so I always make the effort. An opponent who has been treated with politeness and respect is far more likely to be cooperative with discovery and other procedural aspects of a litigation matter, and to seriously consider our settlement proposals. This helps us toward a better resolution of the case, and reduces the stress level of everyone involved. For this reason, clients who are looking for a “shark” or who want “scorched earth” litigation should go elsewhere.