Litigation requires adherence to the court’s requirements and schedules. It is a formal and rigid process that provides a critical and essential service to the community, but it is time-consuming and expensive. It is the appropriate option for a relatively small percentage of my clients. You should discuss this option with your attorney, so you are clear on the advantages and disadvantages of this process in regards to your unique legal matter.
Often even a litigated case is settled before a full trial takes place. A frequent method to settle litigated divorces is to refer the disputed issues to Settlement Facilitation. In a mediated or collaborative case, the goal from the beginning is to “settle the case”, which means to resolve the dispute without judicial intervention to the satisfaction of both parties.
Settlement within a litigated case is typically done after there has already been an exchange of formal interrogatories and production of documents and after a preliminary type of hearing before the judge has taken place. In other words settlement is often not accomplished until the parties are relatively close to their actual litigation trial date with the court.
Settlement facilitation is a more structured and layered variation on mediation, which involves the parties, their lawyers, and a neutral “facilitator." Settlement facilitation most typically occurs within the midst of a litigation case. The judge may refer the case to settlement facilitation, or the attorneys may request the case go to settlement facilitation before trial.
The settlement facilitator is a neutral professional (often an attorney, but may be an accountant or professional in a subject matter relevant to the dispute such as real estate). Each party to the legal matter has his or her respective attorney in attendance at the settlement facilitation sessions.
Typically, the attorneys have prepared and provided the settlement facilitator with written explanatory and descriptive materials regarding the dispute prior to the settlement facilitation session. Settlement facilitation's are often held in half-day or full-day sessions. It is an intense resolution-oriented process that entails advanced preparation and groundwork to be successful.
Claire Sanderson Hanna has over 25 years’ experience representing clients as their family lawyer at settlement facilitations. When litigation is necessary, Claire Sanderson Hanna often works with co-litigation counsel, with Claire Sanderson Hanna focusing on the settlement aspects and the litigation co-counsel handling the in-courtroom hearings.
One Executive Center
8500 Menaul NE, Suite B-550
Albuquerque, NM 87112
t: (505) 243-0900
f: (505) 243-5785