Divorce strategy: Settle or go to court?

Going through a divorce typically causes intense feelings for both spouses, and nearly all of them are not positive. However, most couples still want to make the process of ending a marriage as painless as possible.

Still, many are unsure of the best way to pursue a divorce. Should you work together with your soon-to-be-ex to find an acceptable outcome? Or, if your marriage deteriorated into a toxic relationship, are you fixated on “having your day in court?”

Considerations for determining the divorce process

Probably the best advice anyone can give is not to let your emotions dictate how your divorce will look. Instead, carefully weigh these four factors in determining the route that makes the most sense:

  • How long will it take?: Divorce trials can easily take a year or more, and with court backlogs due to the pandemic, the process could drag on even longer. Settlements will likely be affected as well in 2021 by growing caseloads, but they usually only take a few months.
  • How much will it cost?: Logic dictates that the longer the process lasts, the more expensive it will be. You’ll not only pay attorney fees but court expenses as well. These costs can multiply quickly. Trials can easily run well into five digits, while a settlement can cost a few thousand dollars.
  • How much stress can I handle?: Ending a marriage is one of the most stressful events anyone will face. When the process is contentious, going to trial can cause those anxious feelings to linger for a long time. Stress can also affect your kids, your home life and your career.
  • When is litigation the best option?: The answer to that question is usually “when it’s the only way to receive a fair outcome.” If your spouse refuses to meet you halfway over asset distribution, child custody or support payments, going to trial may be the best and only option.

Focus on fairness and the future

Spouses with unfaithful or neglectful partners often think of litigation as the only way to “get back” at the other party. While those feelings may be justified, judges typically don’t want to hear about grievances with your spouse. They expect fact-based arguments on why you deserve more time with your kids, a larger share of marital assets, or higher support payments.

Working with an experienced family law attorney is the optimal way to sort through these considerations and find the best outcome causing the fewest emotional scars. A knowledgeable attorney can help you decide when cooperation is likely to bring the best result. Likewise, your lawyer will aggressively fight for your interests if litigation becomes necessary.

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