A divorce ends in one of four ways: death, reconciliation, settlement, or trial. Many times it is a mixture of the last two; spouses will usually settle on some issues, but go to trial to get a judge to decide how to resolve other issues. It is always recommend to a client to try and settle. Always. However there is a catch, one should only settle only when one has sufficient information on which to make an intelligent decision. That implies knowing what they are settling about, they must have done at the very east 70% of the discovery before making any decision.
For example if one spouse has a business they are running full time while the has a another job or is a stay-at-home parent, how can they divide the business fairly if the latter does not know what the business is worth. Maybe they would get overpaid. However if there is a settlement in this situation, without the help of legal and financial experts involved, the spouse who is not running the business will most likely be underpaid significantly. A simple question to help clarify: who between those two has more knowledge about the financial state of the business.
When settling, one needs enough information to decide intelligently.
It is our policy to always send a settlement offer before going to court to help our clients save time and resources. The question to ask then is when should the settlement offer be sent.
Mediation is a form of working things out to trial and settle a case. However even in the realm of Mediation both spouses and their mediation attorney need to have enough information from which they can mediate the case. Moreover, especially in high conflict cases, each party may desire to have their own representative in the process to help them understand whether or not they are making a sound decision.
As a concept mediation is great, you have one individual who cannot take sides. This neutral third party tries to help the spouses meet some form of midpoint. However who said such midpoint is fair. Just because a spouse says their business is worth $1 million and the other says it is worth $500,000 does not mean the middle point is $750,000.
Therefore anyone who is looking to settle or mediate should do some from a position of knowledge, with enough information they can make an intelligent decision. As your family law attorney part of our role is to counsel you and perform the necessary research to finally give you an opinion as to what your ranges are so that you make an educated decision.