When most couples decide to end their marriage, both usually want to avoid a long and stressful process, especially if children are involved. But, it’s not always easy when both spouses don’t agree on custody arrangements or how to split marital assets.
The question then becomes – do I commit to a process that seeks to find a middle ground? Or, does litigation present the best opportunity to achieve the results I want, and I’m OK with leaving the decisions up to a judge?
Factors to consider for litigation vs. negotiation
A key factor is not letting emotions cloud your judgment over the best way to achieve those results. An experienced family law attorney can help assess your strategy, whether it’s mediation, collaborative divorce or by going to court. These four factors are vital for evaluating the best path:
- Time: Trials can take over a year, typically several months longer than a settlement. During that time, you’ll have to make court appearances and meet numerous times with your lawyer to prepare your case. This will likely impact your personal and professional lives.
- Cost: It’s understandable that the longer you spend preparing for a trial and then going through the courtroom process, the more expensive it will be. Is the added cost worth what you are likely to receive compared to what can be negotiated in half the time or less?
- Emotions: The longer the process plays out, the more stressful it will be, not just for you and your soon-to-be-ex, but your children and extended family members as well. Your divorce will likely dominate your life and be foremost on your mind, even at work.
- Outcome: This factor alone may be the only one where pursuing litigation is the best option. If your spouse is unwilling to negotiate over custody and unreasonable about dividing assets, going to court may be the only way for you to achieve a fair result.
Weigh emotions against sound decision-making
Your lawyer can help you assess each of these factors to find the strategy to help you achieve the best results. One word of caution – going to court to enact revenge on a cheating spouse is usually not a good reason to pursue litigation.
Judges want sound reasoning on why you deserve a larger share of marital assets or more time with your kids. They typically aren’t persuaded over grievances against a spouse. Your attorney can ultimately help you decide whether your best route is through negotiation or leaving the big decisions in the hands of a judge.