It’s estimated that more than nine out of every 10 divorces are settled out of court as most couples want to avoid a long, costly and contentious battle. However, sometimes, that’s easier said than done.
Parents want to spare their kids as much pain as possible by shortening the process and working together with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse. Cooperating for a reasonable settlement can have long-lasting benefits for their post-divorce relationship.
Four factors to consider for settling or litigating
It’s advisable to work with an experienced family law attorney who understands which route may be the best for your situation, whether it’s mediation, collaborative law or going before a judge. The four primary considerations for determining the process are:
- Time: Divorce trials can take more than a year, depending upon court schedules. That means you’ll also spend more time meeting with your lawyer, taking time off work and living in limbo until your case is resolved. Your divorce can be finalized in considerably less time if you reach a settlement.
- Cost: It stands to reason that the longer your divorce takes, the more you’ll have to pay. Trials can be very costly. While each case is different, settlements typically can be achieved for significantly less cost.
- Stress: A longer contentious divorce promises to take a greater emotional toll on you and the rest of your family. Litigation is combative by nature, while mediation or a cooperative divorce has both parties working together, lowering everyone’s temperature.
- Outcome: Of these four factors, this is the one where going to court may be your best or only option. Litigation often becomes necessary when one or both parties refuse to work toward a fair outcome over dividing assets, child custody and support payments. However, reaching an agreement is the only way that you can guarantee a result! At trial, the judge will decide the outcome, which may not be a result that you desire.
Avoid the urge to retaliate against a spouse
You may be justified in wanting to take a cheating or neglectful partner to court. However, judges want fact-based arguments on why you deserve a more significant share of assets or time with your kids. They don’t want to hear a couple’s grievances. In addition, Wisconsin has a no-fault state, and the court simply cannot consider wrong-doing in most instances.
Unless your spouse becomes unreasonable and refuses to negotiate for a fair outcome, there are more benefits to working together and taking control of the process, which remains private, instead of leaving all the big decisions up to a stranger – the judge – and airing dirty laundry in a public court forum.