I am often asked by a prospective client if we will have to go to court. My response? If both parties act reasonably, certainly not. The majority of my family law files, by a margin of at least 3 to 1, are settled without seeking the assistance of a Judge. Of those that do "go to Court", 9 out of 10 are settled at or shortly after we reach the first stage of the Court process; the Case Conference. Very few cases I handle require motions, fewer still, trials. Why? I think there are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, I have the experience to advise you as to what will likely happen on a motion or at a trial. With that knowledge in hand, we can strategize to obtain the same result without incurring the cost of arguing the issue. Secondly, I pride myself on my skills as a negotiator. Whether it be through effectively written letters, or by way of settlement meetings with counsel and clients present, I do seem to get my clients results.
Of course, every case is different and soon to be ex-spouses can be unreasonable. As I often say to my clients, "you know your ex better than I do". If you feel the major obstacle to moving on with your life is your ex's intransigence on an issue that you are not prepared to concede, it is important that you retain a solicitor who is comfortable litigating that issue. Your ex must know, from the outset that stubbornness will not lead to victory.
I am not a 'collaborative lawyer'. While I respect the goals of a 'collaborative law process', my experience over the last 15 years in family law makes me cautious to recommend it. Why? Because when you agree to settle the issues arising from the breakdown of your relationship through the collaborative law process, you sign an Agreement not to use the same lawyer should you and your ex be unable to come to an Agreement and have to go to court. The cost of representation being what it is today, this is quite the incentive to come to an Agreement. But what if your ex refuses to compromise? To get what you know is fair and right, you will have to retain another lawyer to bring the matter before the Court. That means another retainer and more time and money spent.
I think it is wiser to retain a solicitor who is settlement oriented, but who can and will take whatever steps are necessary to secure for you what is reasonable and fair.
Call me for a free, half hour consultation on any family law issue that you may have.