Last year, I wrote on this blog about “How to Not Settle Your Case.”  This case on the heels of several months of “interesting”, to say the least, negotiations on several matters which got me thinking about creating a list of things to do if you really don’t want to settle your case. In justifying this list, I noted:

Hey, everybody is entitled to their day in court if they want it. So what if there is nothing that can be gained from it. So what if you can’t win. So what if forcing the matter to trial will create other legal issues. So what if trial will cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Since then, I thought of a few more to add to the list.

  • Your new significant other is a lawyer, they know better than your lawyer.  Of course they know better, you have been completely honest with them.  Of course they aren’t telling you what you want to hear – why would they do that?  And when they are speaking to their matrimonial partner about your case, they are giving them all of the facts, context and subtext of the case.
  • Every case is the same, so make sure that you demand the same deal that your hairdresser, or cousin’s friend, heard that that their cousin’s friend got.  While this information, if true, may be food for thought or points of discussion, ignore the potential differences inherent to each matter and demand that you get the same, even if it bears no relation to the appropriate resolution of the case.
  • Pretend that you are Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, and keep having the same conversation over and over, hoping that the answer will be different.  And don’t just do that with your spouse, do it with your lawyer too.
  • Hold grudges and let anger blind you from coming to a resolution that lets you move on with your life.  They are your feelings, don’t only embrace them but let them control all.  And don’t get therapy to deal with the real hurt, betrayal, rejection, depression, mourning, etc. that you are feeling.
  • Allow emotions to impair your judgment on financial issues.  I know that you can’t imagine your spouse living in your home with someone new, but it’s a good idea to take less for the house by selling it rather than allowing your spouse to buy you out.
  • Create a ruse that an emotional issue is really a financial one.  There will be a lot of nasty letters and everyone will be confused because you are not even arguing about the same thing, but at least one of you and his/her lawyer won’t know it.
  • Profess a desire to settle but then never compromise on any issue.  Also, don’t let your experts compromise either, even in the face of an error in their report.  And if they do have to concede the error, make sure that they change something else so that their final number never actually changes.
  • Hire a new lawyer on the eve of mediation or trial, and let that person enter the case like a bull in a china shop, as if the case just started, and there was no prior history.  Ignore the fact that both sides were making concessions and working towards and amicable resolution, and just blow things up and start from scratch, without any basis for doing so.  I am not saying that people cannot and should not change lawyers.  Sometimes it is necessary.  Sometimes the concessions being made are too much, for a variety of reasons.  But in cases where the negotiations and concessions are appropriate on both sides, if you don’t want to settle, pull the rug out from under the negotiations.
  • Hire a second, then third, then fourth, then fifth attorney every time something doesn’t go your way. 
  • In alternating conversations with your lawyer, tell them that you need to settle immediately, then tell her that you want her to litigate aggressively, then settle, then litigate, and so on.  Follow that up by being angry with your lawyer because they were trying to settle when you were back to aggressively litigating, and vice versa.
  • Believe your spouse when they are pressuring you to settle for a lot less than your attorney tells you would be a reasonable settlement.  While perhaps this doesn’t belong on this list, because it is a “how not to settle” list, maybe it belongs on a new list regarding regrets people have after taking a bad deal for the wrong reason.
  • Let your spouse convince you that they you don’t need all of the discovery because “you can trust me”, when all other evidence indicates that you can’t.  Perhaps this belongs with the prior thought.

In case you don’t remember, here is last year’s list:

10. Ignore your expert’s advice. What do they really know about the value of your business or how a judge will likely assess your total income/cash flow? What does an accountant know about taxes, or more importantly, how the IRS may address the creative accounting practices that you or your business have employed? What does the custody expert really know?

9. Ignore your lawyer’s advice. What do they know anyway? If your lawyer is telling you that you should jump at the deal on the table because it looks like a huge win, disregard it. If they tell you that you have real exposure on certain issues or may be forced to pay your spouse’s legal fees, roll the dice. If your attorney tells you that they are willing to try your case, but that you should consider settlement because the cost of the settlement will be less than the cost of the trial plus the absolute minimum you have to pay, don’t believe it. And what does your lawyer know about the law or the judge anyway?

8. Ignore the facts of your case. Trust your ability to spin the facts in a way that doesn’t make sense. Plus, how can they prove if you’re lying.

7. Ignore what the neutrals are saying. What do the Early Settlement Panelists know? What does the mediator know? When the judge has a settlement conference and gives directions, what does she/he know? Assume that the people that have no “horse in the race” are aligned with your spouse or their attorney, have been bought off, or are just plain ignorant. Really, it has nothing to do with the facts of your case or the reasonableness of your position.

6. Ignore the law. It doesn’t apply to you anyway.

5. Continue to misrepresent things, even when the other side has documents to disprove virtually everything you are saying. Assume that you will be deemed more credible than the documents.

4. Believe that the imbalance of power that existed during the marriage will allow you to bully your spouse into an unfair settlement. Assume that your spouse’s attorney won’t try protecting her/him. All lawyers roll over on their clients, right?

3. Take the position that you would rather pay your lawyer than your spouse. Ignore that fact that this tactic usually ends with your doing both, and maybe your spouse’s lawyer too.

2. Pretend as if your spouse never spent a second with the kids in the past and has no right to do so in the future. Make false allegations of neglect or abuse. Ignore the social science research that says that it is typically in the children’s best interests to spend as much time as possible with each parent. What do the experts know about your kids anyway? And while you are at it, bad mouth your spouse to or in front of the kids. Better yet, alienate them. Then fight attempts to fix the relationship.

1. Take totally unreasonable positions implementing any or all of above and on top of that, negotiate backwards. Ignore the maxim “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” Put deals on the table and then reduce what you are offering. Negotiate in bad faith. Negotiate backwards. Don’t worry that this conduct may set your case back.

In case it needs to be said (though I doubt it), the above is clearly facetious and tongue in cheek. I do not recommend this behavior. It is usually self-destructive and short sighted. But, believe it or not, these things happen all of the time. While I am not saying that no case should ever be tried, because sometimes trials are necessary, if you want to ensure a costly trial that may not go well for you, try the things on this list. And if it is your day in court that you want, be careful you wish for.

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Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric is resident in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland and Morristown, New Jersey offices, though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

Yesterday, I blogged about the illusory "final offer", noting that most cases settle.  The reason for that is that there is a realm of reason, a range if you will, where cases with similar facts and circumstances, should resolve themselves based upon experience, statutes, case law, Guidelines, etc.  In most cases, absent wide valuation disparities, esoteric issues, bona fide custody disputes, including relocation, and/or really unique sets of facts and circumstances, the range is a relatively small one.  These are not personal injury cases where a carrier is offering $0 and the plaintiff is seeking millions. 

 

What do you do when you get a settlement proposal that is so out of left field that it borders on , or perhaps is, bad faith?  Do you ignore it?  Do you respond with an equally outlandish proposal in the other direction?  Or do you respond with a proposal in the realm of reason?

Maybe you don’t really want to do that.  Why?  Because, as noted in my last post, you will be going to an Early Settlement Panel (ESP), mediation, and/or an Intensive Settlement Conference (ISC).  The risk of negotiating with a reasonable position vs. the other side’s unreasonable position is that the impartial may suggest "splitting the difference."  Splitting the difference may be fair when both party’s proposals are within the reasonable range.  It clearly is not fair when one party’s proposal is outlandish.  Moreover, even if the unreasonable negotiator comes down substantially, perhaps even more than you come up (or vice versa), you will suffer the wrath of their righteous indignation because they "gave more." 

 

Also, I previously posted about a mediator saying that he was creating "settlement anxiety" to try and move parties to get the case settled.  While this may be fair if parties are either equally reasonable or equally unreasonable, is it fair to try to push the reasonable one when the other party is unreasonable?  I think not. 

 

In a case that I settled this year, the first proposal from the other side was clearly punitive and clearly bad faith.  We chose not to respond and I advised the adversary as such.  He begged us for a counter proposal.  We decided to make one that, while not bad faith, was extremely aggressive in the other direction.  What happened next?  We started negotiating within the realm of reason and the case got settled.

 

I am not saying that that strategy will work in every case but it worked in that one, as I suspected it might.  Negotiations can be complicated.  Great thought should be given as to the strategy to employ based upon who you are dealing with and how they are negotiating. In an advertisement in a recent  Super Lawyers publication, a firm stated that they were known for "winning" divorce cases.  That is funny since few are tried and seldom is there a clear "winner."  You don’t want to let the other side "win" a negotiation because they started with an absurd position and you felt compelled to negotiate on their terms.

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Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com .

This is my final offer!!!  Don’t you just love the ultimatum, the line in the sand, the threat of Armageddon if capitulation is not immediately at hand?  I sure do.  Is it because I love to go to trial?  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy trial but that is not the reason. 

 

Seldom does it mean that a reasonable counter proposal won’t be considered it it doesn’t materially alter the terms being discussed.  Usually it means that your are getting pretty close to a settlement so that the proclamation can alert you and your client that now may be the time to do a deal.  In a recent case that I just settled, almost comically, each side probably sent 5 "final offers." 

 

And why is a final offer seldom a final offer?  Because 99% of all cases settle.  Because the system is geared to promote settlement.  Because before you go to trial, you will go likely go to custody and parenting time mediation, an Early Settlement Panel (ESP), mandatory economic mediation (sometimes several sessions), and an Intensive Settlement Conference (ISC) with the judge, or many.  Often, your first trial date is not a real trial date, but rather another day to bring the parties (and perhaps experts too) in to try and cajole or finesse and strong arm a settlement.  Even on your real trial date, perhaps before and often during the breaks of a trial, the judge will encourage settlement and/or the circumstances of how the trial is going may encourage settlement. 

 

So keep giving us your "final offers."  Sometimes, our client will accept them.  Other times, we will make a counter offer and await your next final offer until one day, the case will be settled or tried to conclusion.

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Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

 

Several years ago, I posted a blog entitled "Some Times You Just Have to Try a Case."  In that post, I discussed that there are some times where a litigant simply refuses to settle making a trial inevitable.  Are there times, however, when a trial might be less costly, quicker and preferable to long, drawn out, and perhaps insufferable negotations.  I have dubbed these mind numbing, perhaps bad faith negotiations, where sometimes you take one step forward and two steps back and sometimes, no issue is ever resolved, and sometimes, you make an offer about alimony and the response is about equitable distribution – death by a thousand paper cuts.  Whether intentional or not, you wonder whether a trial would have just been bettter.

I ponder that after recently concluding a case that, while having one little twist, which we got past several months ago, then endured numerous mediation sessions, numerous Intensive Settlement Conferences at the Courthouse and even more than one scheduled uncontested hearing where even the final changes had final changes, plus new changes.  In fact, I have recently had several cases where it took an inordinate amount of mediation sessions to resolve simple cases.  In one reasonably simple case, the parties went to mediation 6 or 7 times, before attorneys attended and even then, it did not settle despite the outcome being obvious.  In another, after 9 mediation sessions (7 with lawyers present), the case remains unsettled though only small dollars in the big picture remain in dispute. 

In your garden variety case, the inordinately drawn out process only serves to either wear a party out and forces the righteous client to give up to either move on or stop the bleeding of legal fees.  Otherwise, they incur a large legal bill just to get to the place they should have been had the other side acted reasonably (presuming for the second that they have negotiated fairly and reasonably.)

While I understand the desire to avoid trial at all costs for all of the usual reasons – finality, having control of your own destiny as opposed to putting the decision in the hands of a stranger, etc.- if the process comes to a place where all things considered, you cannot do worse if you go to trial, maybe a party should consider pulling the plug on these expensive snails pace and/or bad faith drawn out negotiations,  Perhaps the threat, if it is a real threat and you actually start doing what is necessary to prepare for trial, will stop the nonsense and get the other side to end the case once and for all. 

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Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

I sit here stewing on this overcast Friday because the other side reneged on the settlement in two matters, after we believed we were all but resolved in both.  Whether or not these were enforceable settlements is a topic for another blog.  That said, one is particularly frustrating because the other side essentially undid a package proposed by them a few mediation sessions ago which been discussed at a few mediation sessions, only to come back with a new proposal that was accepted by my client. 

The problem is that no one ever just says "my client changed his/her mind."  This would be a fine answer especially in situations where we have laid the ground rule that there is no deal until it is signed of by everyone.  Rather than truth, we get hit with lame, absurd, and/or intellectually dishonest explanations as to why there never was a deal in the first place, and/or why the back tracking (a nice way to say bad faith negotiations) was justified.

What are some of the "dog ate my homework" excuses we have heard.

  • My client didn’t really understand (Were you, the attorney not there?)"
  • the mediation session was chaotic and ended abruptly (note – no denial that there was a deal)
  • my client didn’t believe that any agreements were reached that date (of course, the lawyer isn’t saying that there were no agreements reached)
  • "Oh, is that what we agreed to"
  • My client never agreed to that
  • We may be close on the big stuff (how is that when we accepted your offer on the "big stuff")
  • My client was very emotional
  • My client was hungry
  • My client didn’t take their medication or took too much medication

I am sure that my colleagues could add dozens more.  That said, if a non-binding settlement is reached, wouldn’t it be just better to tell the truth – i.e. my client changed her mind – then create anger and bad feelings spewing nonsense to cover for the acceptable truth?  I’m just sayin …

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Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com

Recently, I was involved in a negotiation that seemed, for the first time, to be moving in the right direction. However, at one point when it was getting toward the end of the negotiation, the next counter proposal started, "you have to get rid of your dogs and sell the house …"

I did not need to hear more because that was a threat, not a real proposal. Implicit in the statement was "if you don’t capitulate to my unreasonable demand, I am going to try to take away that which is no important to you."

Recognizing that this was simply a threat, I put a stop to things (to put it nicely). In these situations, when someone resorts to threats or other illegitimate tactics, consider pulling the plug on the discussion or at least make it clear that you will.  You will be surprised how often that corrects the negotiation and returns it to where it should be. 

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Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

Having just experienced several months of "interesting", to say the least, negotiations on several matters, it got me thinking about creating a list of things to do if you really don’t want to settle your case.  Hey, every body is entitled to their day in court if they want it. So what if there is nothing that can be gained from it.  So what if you can’t win.  So what if forcing the matter to trial will create other legal issues.  So what if trial will cost tens of thousand of dollars.  Here is the list:

10.  Ignore your expert’s advice.  What do they really know about the value of your business or how a judge will likely assess your total income/cash flow?  What does an accountant know about taxes, or more importantly, how the IRS may address the creative accounting practices that you or your business have employed?  What does the custody expert really know? 

9.  Ignore your lawyer’s advice.  What do they know anyway?  If your lawyer is telling you that you should jump at the deal on the table because it looks like a huge win, disregard it.  If they tell you that you have real exposure on certain issues or may be forced to pay your spouses legal fees, roll the dice. If your attorney tells you that they are willing to try your case, but that you should consider settlement because the cost of the settlement will be less than the cost of the trial plus the absolute minimum you have to pay, don’t believe it.  And what does your lawyer know about the law or the judge anyway?

8.  Ignore the facts of your case.  Trust your ability to spin the facts in a way that doesn’t make sense.  Plus, how can they prove if you’re lying.

7.   Ignore what the neutrals are saying.  What do the Early Settlement Panelists know?  What does the mediator know?  When the judge has a settlement conference and gives directions, what does she/he know?  Assume that the people that have no "horse in the race" are aligned with your spouse or their attorney, have been bought off, or are just plain ignorant.  Really, it has nothing to do with the facts of your case or the reasonableness of your position.

6.  Ignore the law.  It doesn’t apply to you anyway.

5.  Continue to misrepresent things, even when the other side has documents to disprove virtually everything you are saying.  Assume that you will be deemed more credible than the documents.

4.   Believe that the imbalance of power that existed during the marriage will allow you to bully your spouse into an unfair settlement.  Assume that your spouse’s attorney wont try protect her/him.  All lawyers roll over on their clients, right?

3.   Take the position that you would rather pay your lawyer than your spouse. Ignore that fact that this tactic usually ends with your doing both, and maybe your spouse’s lawyer too.

2.  Pretend as if your spouse never spent a second with the kids in the past and has no right to do so in the future.  Make false allegations of neglect or abuse.  Ignore the social science research that says that it is typically in the children’s best interests to spend as much time as possible with each parent.  What do the experts know about your kids anyway?  And while you are at it, bad mouth your spouse to or in front of the kids. Better yet, alienate them.  Then fight attempts to fix the relationship.

1.   Take totally unreasonable positions implementing any or all of above and on top of that, negotiate backwards.  Ignore the maxim "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered."  Put deals on the table and then reduce what you are offering.  Negotiate in bad faith.  Negotiate backwards.  Don’t worry that this conduct may set your case back.

The above is clearly facetious and tongue in cheek. I do not recommend this behavior.  It is usually self destructive and short sighted.  But, believe it or not, these things happen all of the time.  While I am not saying that no case should ever be tried, because sometimes trials are necessary, if you want to ensure a costly trial that may not go well for you, try the things on this list.  And if it is your day in court that you want, be careful you wish for.

_________

Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or esolotoff@foxrothschild.com.

I have to admit it.  I have not always been a fan of the 4-way conference.  Often, they have been the bastion of bad behavior, posturing and often just not as productive as mediation with attorneys present or negotiations back and forth, in writing, between counsel.  That said, I am beginning to come around to seeing the usefulness of earlier meetings and earlier mediations, where appropriate, to try to resolve as much as possible, as early as possible.  In fact, I was recently reminded of the importance of the willingness to meet when an opposing counsel was fired, seemingly because that attorney refused to meet or even pick up a phone to discuss issues.

The meetings do not have to be simply for settlement.  More often than not, couples continue to reside in the same household while the divorce case is pending.  Often in these cases, at best, people are on edge and at worst, it is the War of the Roses.  In these situations, an early meeting can be helpful to address conduct and civility within the home and perhaps interim exclusive parenting time between each party and the child(ren).  The alternative could be a domestic violence situation (real or bogus) which could possibly have been avoided.  Temporary support issues can be discussed.  The use, sale and/or restraints on assets can be addressed.  A source of funds for payment of counsel or expert fees can be discussed.  There really is no limit to what can be addressed.

Since custody and parenting time are issues that the courts want to have resolved sooner than later, because custody evaluations take a long time and are expensive, an early meeting can root out whether there are bona fide issues, or whether a settlement on these issues can be reached. 

Other times, these meetings are a good opportunity to allow one or both party with something "on their chest" to have the cathartic experience of getting something off their chest.  In some cases, this allows the issues in the case to be addressed now that this is behind the parties.

In other cases, the entire case can be settled or at least a framework for settlement can be reached, subject to the exchange of certain documents so that each side can be comfortable that they know everything that there is to know.  Even if you cannot settle, you get to learn about the other side’s positions, issues, perhaps evidence, etc. 

While we are used to and adept at litigation and while some cases require some (if not a lot of litigation), this is not the case in every divorce.  Even in high conflict matters, meetings and opening a real dialog can help to keep the lid on things so that the attention can be turned to the real issues.  Figuring when to meet is the trick.  Refusing to meet, at all, is usually a mistake.  Usually something good can come of it.

Last year, I blogged on this topic after I was at a mediation where the mediator, when telling us his assessment of my client’s case, said that he was creating "settlement anxiety." At the time, I had never heard of this term but what I believed was meant was that the mediator wanted the client to have "anxiety" about his/her position in order to be more likely to make compromises and settle. If the goal is getting a settlement at all costs, I guess it makes sense – but is it fair, especially where one party is acting reasonably, and the other is not.  As this has come up in two recent mediations, I thought it made sense to reprise this post.

In most cases, there is a "realm of reasonableness" or a range in which any settlement would be essentially fair. Perhaps, a fair alimony figure could be between $100,000 per year and $125,000 per year. A fair resolution could be either of those numbers and anything in the middle. In most cases, people, with all relevant facts and acting reasonably, negotiate within the realm of reasonableness, but at either end depending on which side of the case they are on. In that case, a mediator trying to create "settlement anxiety" will try to express the flaws in either case to get the parties to meet somewhere in the middle to achieve a result that is fair.

But what about cases where one party is negotiating within the realm of reasonableness and the other is not? Put another way, what about cases where one party has the law and the facts pretty much on their side as to most issues and the other side is taking a position that is absurd? In this case, should the mediator be trying to create similar "settlement anxiety" in both parties? Add another level – what if the mediator knows that the unreasonable party will never settle the matter in a reasonable fashion? Should the mediator pressure/create the same amount of "anxiety" in the more reasonable party just to achieve a settlement even though everyone knows it is unfair? Should the result be settlement at all costs? Does this type of pressure on the righteous party just to get a deal done artificially undermine a party’s relationship with her counsel and experts, if just for settlement purposes, they are told that their case is weak when it is not?

In my humble opinion, pointing out the legitimate limitations in someones case in order to help create a settlement is fair and appropriate. On the other hand, creating artificial anxiety just to get a settlement all all costs because one party is acting unreasonably or negotiating in bad faith is not. The system should be fair and equitable and the parties are entitled to justice. It is neither fair nor justice to lessen a party’s confidence in their case, artificially, just because the other side will never settle in a fair and reasonable manner.

That does not mean a party cannot give more ore receive less just to get a case done and move on with their life. That is their choice. In fact, in recent cases, the mediators have used the anticipated costs of litigation as the pressure point on the party with the more reasonable position. Perhaps the better tactic would be to tell the unreasonable person of their exposure to pay the reasonable party’s legal fees.

That said, the reasonable litigant should not be manipulated just because the other side refuses to be reasonable. And as I have blogged before, sometimes you just have to try a case.

Mark Ashton, a partner in our Exton, Pennsylvania office, and a contributor the firm’s Pennsylvania Family Law blog, wrote an excellent post on that blog entitled "A Divorce Negotiation Primer".

There are several points I would like to highlight:

  • negotiations are confidential and cannot be introduced in court, except for very limited circumstances, but not as to the ultimate issue that is the subject of the negotiations.
  • negotiation is intended to narrow issues
  • at the time of trial, no one is bound by the positions taken during negotiations
  • a party who negotiates backwards (for example making a demand, then increasing the demand), risks losing credibility in the negotiations and also causes their attorney to lose credibility.
  • Put all issues on the table as early as possible so as not to spring new issues when settlement appears near and/or give a party false hope of settlement when the parties are not really all that close.

As usual, Mark’s advice is good advice.