If you are facing a divorce, your attorney will likely advise you to do a cost-benefit analysis. This will help you determine whether or not it is worth pursuing a particular issue. You and your attorney will also need to determine how much it will cost in legal fees to get to that point if your spouse does not want to settle.
For example, I recently had a case where I strongly felt my client should have gotten more out of her divorce than she did…
My client’s husband was into cryptocurrency and gambling and had some money that he kept off the books. He bought a car and put it in his father’s name before the divorce case began. My client argued that she should get a share of the car, but the husband maintained throughout the case that it wasn’t his truck.
He kept a lot of cash in a safe in the house, which made things problematic because there was no clear line between his personal finances and the money he was using to buy assets. (He would put certain assets in his father’s name when purchasing them.)
My client’s case became very difficult to win when the other party hid their assets. I had to be honest with my client and tell them their chances of winning at trial were not as high as they should be. However, I advised them not to settle and take their chances with the Judge. The case ended up settling in part because my client was only entitled to 50% of the alleged funds he was hiding. After doing a cost-benefit analysis, including the likelihood of proving the claim versus the many ten’s of thousands she’d need to pay to take the case to trial, my client decided compromise was a better path.
Moral to the story: if your claim is for $20,000 to $30,000, it may not be worth spending the money to go to trial. Your attorney’s fees could end up costing as much as the amount of money at stake. In this case, it might be better to negotiate a settlement with the other party.
Before making the decision to take your case to trial, it is important to be aware of the potential costs involved. Depending on the case’s complexity and whether it goes to trial, attorney fees can range from $20,000 to $30,000 or more. There is also no guarantee that your case will be successful, even if all the evidence is seemingly in your favor.
If you are going through a divorce, one of the biggest decisions you will have to make is whether or not to take your case to trial. While your attorney may tell you that your chances of winning are very high, you also need to weigh the cost-benefit analysis before making a decision. Remember that the Judge still has a lot of discretion when it comes to dividing assets, so even if you win at trial, there is no guarantee you will get what you want.
Is It Ever Worth Litigating These Matters?
If you cannot settle a matter through negotiation, it may be worth taking legal action. In such cases, attorneys will typically exchange sworn statements of each party’s net worth. These include financial details on income, assets, and debts, along with corroborating evidence. Doing so can help determine if litigation is likely to be successful.
In a divorce case where one spouse is claiming separate property credit, that spouse must provide documentation to support the claim. The attorneys for both sides will then engage in settlement negotiations, with the goal of resolving all issues before the case goes to trial. In New York, each case is generally given approximately four months to allow for settlement negotiations.
For more information on the Resolution of Disagreements Without Litigation, an initial consultation is your next best step.
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