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The litigation process – Part three – Settlement

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2022 | Divorce

In the litigation world, compromise is not always a dirty word. Of course, there are times when an attorney must stick to his or her guns and “go to the mat” on an issue, but more often than not, we are called upon to find middle ground to make the best possible deal for our clients, while avoiding the gamble of leaving matters in the hands of a judge or jury. This is the settlement world.

Settlements can arise by way of the informal negotiation process (two opposing attorneys working out a deal for their respective clients), or through formal mediation, utilizing the skills of a neutral mediator to bring the parties together. Settlement can happen at any point up until a jury renders its verdict or until a judge issues a judgment. Thus, many cases are literally settled on the proverbial courthouse steps.

It is always a good idea, after filing suit, to develop a dialogue with the other side. It is my practice to contact opposing counsel early on in every case and gauge the distance between the parties’ positions. Most times, if the distance between the parties is not that great, it is helpful to float a proposed final order to the other side and give them an opportunity to respond. This puts everything in writing and helps everyone to see that an accord may not be that far off. It can also motivate all parties to put what may be a painful matter behind them and focus on getting on with their lives.

When matters are a bit more complex, or the gulf between the parties’ positions is vast, it usually makes sense to engage in the mediation process. Formal mediation involves the services of a paid mediator to assist in resolving the dispute. The mediator is a neutral attorney who speaks with both sides and delivers offers and counteroffers between the two camps.

At mediation, the two camps set up shop in different conference rooms. The mediator floats back and forth delivering settlement news, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s positions and attempting to lead each party to middle ground. It is often said that a successful mediation leaves both sides feeling initially like they gave too much, but finding in the long run a favorable deal. Any way you cut it, however, settlement offers an attractive alternative to rolling the dice at trial and leaving a client’s fate in the hands of what could be a fickle jury or judge.

Please contact Kevin “Buck” Sralla at 210-600-9565 for a consultation regarding your divorce today.

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