The following article will cover:
- The possibility of losing a contested case at trial and the high costs involved.
- When taking a case to trial may not make financial sense, even if a client is right on the law and the facts.
- The importance of considering the costs and benefits of going to trial and making an informed decision based on the specific circumstances of the case.
What Are The Downsides Of Taking A Contested Case To Trial?
One major downside of taking a contested case to trial is the possibility of losing the case. Even if a client or their attorney believes that they have a strong case, it is important to consider the chance they may be wrong or that the Judge may rule against them. Taking a case to trial can also be expensive, costing anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 or more.
In some cases, clients may believe the other party is acting unfairly and refuse to settle. However, taking the case to trial may not make financial sense. For example, in one case, a client’s spouse was unwilling to share certain assets, even though the general rule in New York is that all assets get divided as they exist at the time of the divorce case filing. Despite being right on the law and the facts, the client was advised that taking the case to trial would not make sense from a cost-benefit analysis perspective. Even if the client won, they would only be entitled to 50% of the disputed assets, which would not offset the anticipated attorney fees.
In another case, a potential client had a dispute over a retirement asset and whether they had “wasted money” from a loan. Even on a relatively simple issue, one is still required to present all the facts, circumstances and documentary evidence on all 16 statutory factors on equitable distribution would be necessary. The cost of going to trial, even if every other issue in the case were settled, would still be around $30,000. Consequently, the potential client was advised to strongly consider making their best and final offer on a credit back issue, as it would not make financial sense to go to trial.
It is important to remember that trials are not as simple as presenting a document (like 1 tax return) to a Judge and letting them make a decision. Testimony and documentary evidence must be presented for each of the 16 statutory factors on equitable distribution, even for a “relatively simple case.” Thus, when taking any case to trial, it is essential to weigh the costs and benefits and determine whether it makes financial sense to spend money on an attorney to take the disputed issue to trial.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Family Law Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Family Law in New York, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (347) 797-1188 today.