Turmaine Family Law Office

Considering Negotiations Before a Trial Begins

Conducting a trial can approach a cost of $1750 -$2500 a day - 7- 10 hours. With that in mind, we need to first consider the court's approach to "trial dates". If the court were to schedule only one case for trial and it settles, that court room would sit empty for the rest of the day after 9:30 AM or so. In order to avoid that catastrophe each judge will schedule up to three of four cases for trial every day. Depending usually upon the length of time each case has been pending, the court will identify one of these cases to go forward. Since that decision isn't made until sometime that morning all parties have to be fully prepared to begin the trial that day.

Another reason is the fact that judges always assign less than the realistic number of days for a case to take place in their courtroom. Assuming that either the first or perhaps the second, or maybe even the third time we are called and present ourselves "ready for trial" we begin and conduct a trial the first day.

The second day that we are able to conduct the trial might be the next consecutive day or it might not. Sometimes the court has something different scheduled for the next day, such as motions and contempts or pretrials or the second or third day of a trial that was started before. So it might be a matter of weeks before we get our second day of trial. We must present ourselves on that day fully prepared and "ready for trial". and will of course run into the same dynamic on that day i.e. we may or may not get called, though our chances improve of getting called with each subsequent “trial day”.

It's conceivable that we report "ready for trial" three or four times and only get in one or two trial days, which take place weeks apart from each other. Hence the preparation time put in to be fully prepared is wasted once or twice. I'm sure you can see that this means a lot of time spent getting ready in addition to time spent in the courtroom.

Another dynamic is the burning desire of the judges to "move" as many cases as possible - that is to say get them finished and off the calendar. The best way for them to do that is to get the parties to settle so very often on each day (though less so after the first day) that we report ready, there will be pressure by the judge to settle. In fact sometimes the judge will spend virtually the entire first day pressuring the parties to settle.

A final point is that serious negotiations need to be considered and conducted at all times in the process.

Tags: Trial, Negotiation, Divorce