What many family lawyers have sensed for a few years has now been corroborated by Gregg Herman, who chairs the American Bar Association Family Law Section. He says, “Divorce has become far less litigious in that more cases are settled than litigated.” The members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have noticed the same phenomenon. In a poll last year, 58 percent of its members indicated that more of their divorce cases over the past five years were settled without trial. James Hennenhoefer, the president of the Academy, believes that there is a clear preference especially among middle-income clients to resolve cases with less contention, in part to cut down on costs.
Contentious divorces still exist. Custody/parenting issues still top the list of hotly disputed areas, followed by spousal support and division of retirement accounts. Acceptance by judges of shared parenting plans has helped mitigate custody litigation.
The statistics and quotes appeared in the June 2008 ABA Journal article, “Still no Bed of Roses” written by Jill Schachner Chanen. Robert Mues originated this blog copy.
Michael Roe’s practice integrates Collaborative and Cooperative Divorce models, allowing divorcing couples to resolve custody and financial issues in a cooperative, low-court environment. For some families, this is the lower cost, lower stress alternative to a bitter, costly divorce.
Some complex cases need to be aggressively prosecuted. In my practice, cases involving psychological issues and parental alienation do not typically settle. These cases require careful, experienced strategies, aggressive prosecution, and trial preparation.