Ending a marriage presents short-term and long-term challenges for the entire family. The emotional toll it can take often leads divorcing partners to work together to make the process as quick and painless as possible.
However, sometimes that’s not practical as each marriage and divorce are different. But before either you or your spouse dig in your heels over going to court, it’s essential to consider the best course for your situation.
Four factors in weighing negotiation vs. litigation
Statistics show that fewer than 10% of divorcing partners end up in front of a judge who handles the decision-making for dividing assets or determining custody. Before you choose litigation, consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help you consider these four factors:
- How long will my divorce take?: Trials can drag out well over a year, depending upon the court’s schedule. Settlements usually only take a few months.
- How much will it cost?: The longer the process takes, the more it will cost. Some trials can run well into the five-digit range. Mediation, collaboration or negotiation can resolve differences for a few thousand dollars in some cases.
- How much stress can I handle?: The longer it takes, and the more it costs, the more stressful the process becomes for most. Trials focus on past areas of disagreement. Settlements are usually more forward-focused, and both parties control where, when and how often they meet.
- What is the best outcome?: If both parties agree on most major issues, settling is likely best. However, litigation may be the only course for an equitable result if one spouse wants an unfair share of marital assets or more time with the kids.
Make decisions based on facts, not emotion
Many divorcing spouses long to have their day in court, especially if their partner was unfaithful or neglectful. While those feelings may be justified, remember that judges want to hear law-based arguments on why you deserve a larger share of marital property or more parenting time.
In the end, most spouses prefer to work things out by themselves to save time, money and stress, especially when they have kids. Your lawyer can help you keep the focus on finding an outcome that’s in your best interests for starting a new life.