When it comes to risk taking, I am conservative by nature. When it comes to risking other people’s families or money, I am even more so. Generally, this works very well for my clients as we try to resolve disputes. I’m a big fan of resolving disputes, particularly in family law settings because the family, in whatever form, endures even after a family law fight, so you really ought to strive to make the outcome as positive for all concerned as it can possibly be.
But sometimes there is no possible settlement, no positive outcome for all concerned. Sometimes the stakes are too high or the options for resolution are too low. Sometimes the other side is so entrenched that they can’t conceive of a settlement; they are going for blood or going for broke or maybe going for both.
It is a sad state of affairs when the other side goes all in and bets the farm, when the opposition pursues a winner take all approach. Someone is going to get hurt. Often, everyone is going to get hurt.
The good news, though, is that, in a way it takes all risk off the table. If there is no plausible settlement, there is no possible choice; there is only win or lose. There is no self-recrimination over whether a settlement offer should have been accepted, it was never offered in the first place. “All in” becomes kind of comfortable in a fatalistic sort of way.
When you have no choice, you roll the dice. Of course, you have spent the entirety of the preparation of the case improving your chances of prevailing at trial so you aren’t actually rolling the dice, praying that they fall your way. You are making the best use of the evidence you’ve marshaled. You are framing your issues in the manner that most suits your favored outcome. There is no superstitious flick of the wrist impacting the outcome but rather, countless hours of pouring over documents and evaluating possible testimony in an effort to reduce the risk that a court could wind up perceiving the situation quite differently than you want it to.
Still, when the gavel falls you tee it up. You play it out. You roll the dice. And you live with the outcome, win or lose.
Rational minds probably could have produced a better result, but then you probably weren’t dealing with rational minds in the first place. That’s why you were resolving family law disputes by rolling the dice.
Just remember that in this family law betting game, the house never wins.