Even in the best of situations, divorce can be a painful experience. That’s why many divorcing couples want to make the process as easy as possible, especially if they have children.
But an amicable divorce may not always be an option. One or both spouses may be inflexible over demands regarding marital property or custody. Before anyone digs in their heels, it’s advisable to compare settling your divorce versus going before a judge.
Consider time, cost, stress and a fair outcome
Going to court means you agree to have a judge make the major decisions for you in a divorce proceeding. Here are four factors you should first consider:
- Time: Litigating a divorce can take well over a year, depending upon court schedules. Settlements typically take only a few months.
- Cost: The longer the process goes, the more you’ll pay. In addition to attorney fees, you pay some court costs for going to trial. While each case is different, settling can cost a few thousand dollars compared to litigation, potentially running well into five figures.
- Stress: If your divorce takes longer and costs more, the more anxiety you’ll likely experience. A trial means you’re at the mercy of the court’s schedule, plus you’ll likely need to meet with your attorney often. Settling, such as through mediation, means you and your soon-to-be-ex control the time, place and frequency of meetings.
- Outcome: Of these four factors, this may be the only one where going to court makes the most sense. If your spouse wants more time than is reasonable with your kids or believes they deserve a greater share of assets, you may have no choice but litigation.
Choose reason over rage
It’s advisable not to pursue litigation in an attempt to strike back at an unfaithful or dishonest spouse. Judges only want to hear law-based arguments on why you deserve more time with your kids or a better financial outcome. They don’t want to listen to grievances.
Divorce can be an overwhelmingly emotional experience. But working with an experienced family law attorney can help you sort through those feelings to pursue a strategy for achieving a fair result and beginning your new life in the best possible financial and emotional shape.