Settle or go to court?: A divorce dilemma

When spouses decide to end their marriage, many divorces become bitter and contentious battles. Some people decide upfront they want their day in court, especially if they’re dealing with a cheating partner.

However, before undergoing a combative, lengthy and costly process, they may want to consider whether they can achieve a better result for dividing marital assets and finding a mutually agreeable child custody arrangement by negotiating with their soon-to-be-ex.

Weigh these factors for litigating vs. negotiating

Before someone digs in their heels over letting a judge determine their divorce outcome, they should consider the following:

  • Length of the process: Depending upon the court’s schedule, a trial can take more than a year, which is typically months longer than the average time it takes to settle. During that time, your personal and work lives will be disrupted by hearings and meetings with your lawyer.
  • How much will it cost?: It only stands to reason that the longer your divorce takes, the more it will cost. You’ll be paying for the court’s time as well as more in attorney fees and related expenses, which can add up quickly. While each case is different, trials can run well into the five-digit range.
  • Do I need the added stress?: Contentious court battles can also take a tremendous toll on the emotional health of everyone involved. Those negative feelings can spill over into every aspect of someone’s life during a trial and establish a negative parenting relationship going forward.
  • How do I achieve the best outcome?: In many cases, working with a spouse can bring a quicker and cheaper result. However, if they refuse to negotiate and demand an unfair portion of marital assets or more time with your children, litigation may the only way you can achieve an acceptable outcome.

Let reason dictate your actions

While going to court may be the only way to find a fair and equitable divorce, remember once you go that route, you lose considerable control of the process, and a judge will make those decisions for you. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process and help you determine if your best possible outcome is likely to be achieved by litigating or negotiating.