Most partners who decide to end their marriage understand that working together to achieve a divorce settlement will help both parties save money and reduce stress.
However, there are instances, especially during a high-asset or high-conflict breakup, when going to court and letting a judge make decisions for you may be the only option.
Considerations for settling vs. going to trial
Consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help guide you to the best possible outcome. There are many factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons of settling or taking your case before a judge. Here are four:
- Time: Trials can take a year or more, and you will have to take time away from work and your regular activities not only for court proceedings but strategy sessions with your lawyer. Settling a case can take much less time, but negotiations can also be a time waster if both sides aren’t close to reaching an agreement.
- Cost: Going to trial requires more of your time and will also take a bigger bite out of your pocketbook. Court costs and attorney fees can multiply rapidly. While fees vary for divorce here in Ohio, the average expense runs into the five-digit range. Reaching a settlement is typically much lower.
- Stress: Divorce is stressful by itself, even if both spouses get along. Adding the contentious nature of a trial can be even more emotionally expensive. Having a long and drawn-out process can lead to stress encroaching on every aspect of your life at home and work.
- Outcome: This may be the best or only consideration where going to trial may be worth the effort. If negotiations go nowhere and your spouse will not agree to a fair result, letting a judge decide can be in your best interest.
Go to court only for the right reasons
Taking your dispute to trial only as a way to “get back” at your spouse is usually not a good motivation by itself. Judges want to hear law-based arguments on why you deserve a more significant share of marital assets or more time with your children. They are usually not interested in hearing grievances about your spouse.
While every couple is different, most understand that a cooperative approach will lead to the best long-term result, both financially and emotionally. Your lawyer can help you find the best outcome through negotiating or by letting a judge decide for you.