Each party hires their own lawyer to fight on their behalf. Generally, both parties demand as much as they can get—but both usually end up wanting the same awards from the court. The attorneys use formal court procedures such as written questions answered under oath (interrogatories), oral questions answered under oath in front of a court reporter (depositions) and subpoenas (use of the court’s power to obtain documents from third parties), to argue that their client should be the one to “win.”
During this process, the attorneys negotiate with each other on their client’s behalf. These negotiations are often lengthy, positional, and filled with “win-lose” proposals.
The reason some people choose this adversarial and stressful process is that they want their day in court. Ironically, only 2% of litigated cases make it to trial, often with hasty and pressured decisions made on the court room steps. Unfortunately, this usually occurs only after the parties and their children have incurred substantial financial and emotional costs.
Furthermore, in the cases that do make it to trial, the ultimate settlement is frequently delayed by multiple trial dates. Even after a final settlement is awarded, closure and peace for the family is often delayed for years beyond that, as 90% of litigated cases return to court for a multitude of post-judgment issues.