Do You Really Want Your Day in Court? By Danielle Stubbs
When people feel as if they’ve been wronged, either by a spouse, business partner, party to a contract, or any other individual whose dealings can impact their daily life, it can be easy to form the mentality of wanting to take that person for “all they’re worth.” A common phrase we hear regarding this mentality is, “I want my day in court!” While trial is sometimes unavoidable, it is most often not the most favorable way to settle a dispute. Whether in a divorce or a civil lawsuit, there are many reasons why settling may lead to a more favorable outcome than having a “day in court.”
1. Expense. What many can underestimate when going through the process of a trial is the cost. Between various filing fees and the volume of billable hours attorneys must spend preparing for trial, it is easy for one’s bill to grow, and fast. While mediation and arbitration can also be costly, the expenses associated with trial are among the highest a client will see on their bill.
2. Uncertainty. Whether a trial in family court, a civil lawsuit, or a trial for any other legal action, the parties lose the ability to reach a solution between themselves and place the authority to decide in the hands of someone else. While having a neutral party (either a judge or a jury) to decide the outcome of a case has its benefits, it also comes with a level of uncertainty. Judges and juries often have guidelines to follow when making decisions, but they still can use their discretion when deciding on a judgment. Thus, it is not uncommon for parties to find themselves surprised (and even disappointed) with the ruling.
3. Hard Feelings. Moreso in family law than most other practices, going to trial can leave a bad taste in one, if not both parties’ mouths. A decision made during trial is made by someone who is completely removed from the issue, and often leads to one party walking away feeling like the “loser.” This often leads to hard feelings and makes it more difficult when trying to co-parent and work with each other in the future.
4. Time Frame. Going to trial can be a LONG process. Most are lucky if they are placed on the docket within a few months. Court dates are often scheduled many months in advance and waiting that long for a final decision is not reasonable for many people. Whether seeking compensation for an injury or waiting for a final decision on child custody, having a long wait for a final decision can be frustrating at best. Many choose to settle simply because it allows them to “move on” with their lives much faster than going to trial would.
This is NOT to say that trial is always to be avoided. There are certain instances in which going to trial is the best way to receive compensation for one’s loss, and others where reaching a settlement agreement just isn’t feasible or in the best interest of everyone affected by the lawsuit. However, going into a case with an open mind toward settlement and giving an honest, good faith effort to settle can save headache (and heartache) in the future.
Danielle Stubbs is a paralegal intern with The Miller Law Firm, P.A. with special interests in family law, personal injury, and civil litigation. To schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney, please call the office at (864) 527-0413.
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