Much like a martial arts master will avoid a physical confrontation if at all possible, a good marital attorney will avoid involving the court if at all possible. The best trial attorneys in Minnesota still settle the vast majority of their divorce cases prior to trial. This is because settlements are good. Although they rarely give the client ‘everything’ they want, the client is still able to move forward with dignity and knowing that the concessions made, painful as they were, were still their choice rather than a judge’s order.
Both clients and attorneys should remind themselves that the parties cannot simply take a court’s order and move on without ever seeing their ex again. Perhaps they are still raising their young (or not so young) children. Perhaps they share the same social group and extended family. Much if not all of the dirty laundry which is inevitable in contested family matters comes out in a trial and remains.
Attorneys want their clients to receive the best outcome possible, but most of the time this outcome can be achieved within a cooperative framework and without name calling or ‘dirty tricks’. Good attorneys will separate the issues that appear to be resolved short of trial from ‘trialable’ issues. They will settle the easy issues and then do their best to settle the hard issues too.
Of course, sometimes a trial of all or most issues is necessary. Some cases are so contentious (and may involve active chemical dependency and/or certain personality disorders) that it is impossible to reach a reasonable timely agreement short of court intervention. If this is the case, the client needs to know this as soon as possible so that whatever protections (formal discovery, a temporary hearing) are needed can be put into play.
Finally, however, clients need to understand that the concessions made in lieu of court orders are not going to change the personality or viewpoint of the other party. Clients need to understand the difference between making concessions because they have what they need and are ready to move on and making concessions because they think that this will ‘make up for’ whatever guilt they have for terminating the relationship.