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How to decide whether to settle your divorce or go to trial

| Jun 29, 2020 | Family Law |

While most divorcing partners understand that working together for a settlement is the quickest and least painful way to end a marriage, it is sometimes impossible.

Going in front of a judge may be the only option when both parties cannot agree on sharing marital assets or figuring out the custody of their children.

Considerations to take into account

Whether a spouse refuses to come to the negotiating table or demands more than their fair share of assets, there are four factors to consider when deciding whether to keep the lines of communication open or letting a judge make the decisions for you. These include:

  • Time: Trials can take over a year, especially since most courts have postponed trials and hearings during the current pandemic. That means it could be a long time before your case is heard. It also likely means spending more time with your attorney, causing you to miss work and make other scheduling adjustments.
  • Money: The longer it takes to finalize a divorce, the more it will likely cost. While court costs and attorney fees can run well into the five-digit range for litigation, settling a divorce is typically much lower.
  • Emotions: A long and tense process can take a toll on your nerves, and those of your family, especially when children are involved. The more contentious a divorce becomes, it will generally affect most, if not all, of your home and work life.
  • Outcome: Of these four considerations, this is usually the one where going to court may be well worth the price and stress. If a spouse is unreasonable and refuses to negotiate in good faith, a judge’s ruling may be the only way for you to get a fair deal.

Choose litigation only when necessary

Be careful of the reasons for going to trial, such as getting back at a cheating spouse. While you may feel the need to tell your side of the story, judges typically want to hear law-based arguments on why you deserve more time with your kids or a larger share of marital assets. They aren’t interested in hearing grievances concerning your spouse.

Remember, if you choose to go to trial, you’re putting the decisions entirely in the hands of a stranger. Consult with an experienced family law attorney, who will protect your interests to help you achieve the best possible outcome.