Divorces are like fingerprints; no two are the same. What could be a simple, smooth process for one person can be a highly contentious, rocky road for another. There are many factors that help determine whether marriage dissolution will be amicable or contentious, fast or slow. It may depend on whether the parties get along, the number and value of the assets they have, and how well each side is prepared going into negotiations. However, the vast majority of marriages do end in settlement without going to court.
So how does one know whether or not they should litigate a divorce? First, it is important to consider what the parties are arguing over. For example, if there is a dispute about how much alimony should be paid then negotiation may be best. However, if one side refuses to pay alimony, then the matter may need to go to court. The can be said for instances where one parent wants sole custody of a child.
Second, parties to a divorce should ask if they are willing to put their divorce legal issues in the hands of a judge who does not know them. Though judges are bound to find a fair arrangement that puts a child's best interests first, he or she knows very little about the parties involved or their family dynamic. To these judges, parties to a divorce are only as they appear on paper. In negotiation, however, the parties may be able to negotiate with someone who truly knows their concerns and they can work together to find a resolution that they both feel is fair.
Lastly, divorcing parties should ask themselves whether they are ready to handle the stress of litigation. Not only are emotions often escalated during the litigation process, but the experience can be prolonged. An individual considering a litigated divorce should be sure they have the support and will to go through a process that may expose them to issues they would rather not put before the public.
Whether it centers on property division, alimony, child custody, child support, or any combination thereof, a divorce can be a complex matter. To find guidance, an individual considering a divorce should think about speaking with an experienced family law attorney.
Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Is It Best To Litigate Or Settle?" Jeff Landers, May 22, 2014