The majority of cases are settled by agreement. Experienced practitioners know to focus first on the issues that are easily remediable, and then work to solve the more difficult issues. If those difficult issues cannot be resolved by agreement, then the issue can be placed before the court either through motion practice or by trial. It is always preferable to settle matters before a trial, but sometimes it simply cannot be helped.
The avenues of settlement must be thoroughly exhausted before the issue is brought before the court. The experienced practitioner knows when a particular issue cannot be resolved by negotiation, and then seeks the help of the court.
Trials can become costly and lengthy processes which deprive both parties of their ability to work or spend time with their children. Thusly, the goal of every matrimonial attorney is to provide an expedited and comprehensive settlement.
When a client first retains the firm, the first thing the firm does is contact opposing counsel. If the opposing party has not hired an attorney as of yet, then a letter to the opposing party which affirmatively states that the firm represents the client, and urges them to contact a lawyer immediately.
Once both counsel for both parties are in place, then discussions can begin about settlement, immediately after the exchange of financial information. A divorce proceeding is not unlike the dissolution of a financial partnership. There are assets to be evaluated and then debts to be determined. After the credits and debits are established, then it becomes an easy calculation as to how to distribute the assets. When one of these assets is challenged as being separate or marital, then the court may very well be asked to intervene on that issue. However, the primary goal in the preliminary stages of a divorce proceeding is to winnow down the resolvable issues, and then focus on the issues in controversy.