Once the parties have gathered sufficient information about the case, then it is time to consider settlement efforts. Most family law cases tend to settle, sometimes even on the day or eve of trial. Settlement efforts can be as informal as email exchanges or phone calls between attorneys, or more formal like proposal letters or mediation.
Mediation is a process that involves the parties going to a neutral person (i.e., the mediator*) who utilizes various techniques or skills to facilitate dialogue between the parties in an effort to help them reach an agreement over their disputed issues. The mediator remains neutral and cannot give advice or act as a lawyer for either party.
Mediation is flexible and confidential. Although the mediator can facilitate the process, it is the parties themselves that determine the conditions of any settlement reached. This allows the parties to maintain control over their dispute rather than accepting something imposed by a judge. This benefit can be a key factor in your ability to move on and recover from your legal dispute.
If settlement efforts fail, then the parties are left with litigation. Trials are expensive. A great deal of preparation must go into a trial. Witnesses need to be interviewed and sometimes subpoenaed. Exhibits must be prepared. Questions and theories of the case must be considered and evaluated. Experts may need to be consulted with or called to testify. The day of trial is only a snippet of all that is really involved.
In many family law cases, trial may not be the best answer. However, many clients want their day in court. They believe that if a judge hears what they have to say, then they will come out victorious. But the reality is that the judge will only hear a portion of what you have to say, and some of what you want to tell the judge may not be relevant to the decisions he or she has to make. Attorneys must pick and choose what can come into evidence, based on the facts of the case, the judge’s history, the rules of evidence, and a variety of other factors. As a result, the outcome of a trial can be unpredictable, and in the end, you have left it to a stranger to decide what is in you and your family’s best interest.
If you would like more detail about this topic, please contact our office to schedule an appointment. www.FamilyLawDFW.com.
*Alexandra Geczi represents clients in mediations as a party’s attorney but is also a certified mediator neutral for other cases. For mediations at our office, we offer free wireless, printing, phone, and fax services. We have two large conference rooms equipped with dry erase boards and one small conference room for a more intimate setting. All rooms have telephones that dial out. We also provide drinks and refreshments for all mediations, and lunch for full day mediations. There is also ample free parking. For clients’ security, we offer front and rear exits as well.