Most individuals who are facing a divorce or family law matter desire a settlement. There are few individuals who would actually want a trial or evidentiary hearing in their case.
A trial or evidentiary hearing is almost always expensive from a financial perspective, can sometimes result in appeals (which can cost more money) and can also cause stress, anxiety, anguish and other emotions.
At the same time, many think that being diligent and preparing their case for a trial or evidentiary hearing detracts for settlement. To settle, many individuals would prefer that their lawyers do little or no work on their matter.
Obviously, if the case is entirely settled, there might not be much work that needs to be done when compared to a litigated divorce or family law matter. At the same time, even when there is an entire settlement out of the gates, there is still a basic amount of diligence and competence required, like getting essential documents and information needed to ensure the settlement agreement can be put into writing and to verify that the settlement is not unconscionable (so that it is approved by the family court judge).
But in many cases, there is not a comprehensive settlement that has been reached out of the gates. Instead, there is simply a desire to settle without an agreement on all issues. Some parties might agree on some of the items at issue, but to settle a divorce or family law matter, there needs to be a settlement on all issues.
Thus, if their lawyer obtains the financial records that they need to prepare their case, many are resistant to their desire. Since they want to settle, they do not wish to give to their attorney important items such as tax returns, paycheck stubs, deeds, vehicle titles, account statements and other important documents.
If the value of a home or a business is in dispute, many may not want their attorney to be diligent by getting the value appraised. They may not want an appraisal because they want to settle. They may think that getting an appraisal can inflame the situation or cause the cost to increase needlessly.
If there are other important witnesses in the case, they might not want depositions to take place in their case as well. The thought, again, is that they want to settle. Therefore, they do not want their attorney to be diligent by setting depositions.
The examples are really endless in terms of the ways a party might not want their attorney to be diligent in the name of settling the case. The problem for these parties, however, is that if the case does not settle, their lawyer will not be prepared for trial. It is true as well that peace can oftentimes only be obtained in some cases through ensuring the other party knows the other party’s lawyer is prepared for a trial if the case does not settle.
While many parties might believe that diligence detracts to settlement, the truth is that being diligent can help the case settle. And if a settlement is not possible, for whatever reason, it ensures that all the eggs are not put in one basket.