We recommend that you try to settle any disputed issues with your spouse whenever possible, whether on your own (with your attorney’s assistance) or with the help of a mediator. Sometimes, though, that just is not possible, and you end up litigating contested issues in your divorce.
There are several issues you should be aware of if your divorce case is going to trial:
It takes time
You must go through the discovery process in which you and your spouse provide each other with documents. You may have to participate in a deposition in which you testify under oath about issues that may come up in your trial. After that is completed, the court sets a date for trial. It usually takes a minimum of several months to get a trial date. If either of the attorneys or the judge has a conflicting obligation, your court date will be rescheduled.
It is expensive
Trials cost more than mediation. Your attorney and any other staff who work on your case get paid by the hour, and when you litigate, the hours required add up dramatically. There are other expenses involved in litigation, including filing and copying fees and fees charged by expert witnesses.
It makes it impossible for you to keep certain things private
If you are litigating issues of child custody or parenting time, you and your spouse may hire experts who evaluate you medically and psychologically to determine what outcome is in your child’s best interests. Your county’s Friend of the Court office also investigates these issues and prepares an advisory opinion for the judge to consider. Either party can require other people, such as family members, friends and neighbors, to testify. They may be uncomfortable about sharing their knowledge about you and your activities, but they are under oath and must be truthful. If you’re involved romantically with someone, you should expect that person to be subpoenaed as well.
There is still an option to settle, even if you have prepared for trial
Even if your case is already headed for litigation, you should be open to settlement offers, including those presented on the eve of trial. It can be hard to accept a settlement once you have already spent time and money on preparing your case, and the impulse to want to see your case through is understandable. But by definition, settlement is designed to find a middle ground between the parties. If you lose at trial, you will almost certainly have spent more money and will end up getting less than you would have had you settled the dispute.
This information is not intended to tell you that you should never litigate your divorce. Our goal is for you to make a fully informed decision after considering all the factors. The decision whether to accept a settlement offer is always yours in the end – your attorney can make a recommendation, but he or she cannot require you to settle.
If you think your divorce case is likely to end up in litigation, call the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins. We have more than 30 years of experience helping our clients navigate one of the most emotional times of their lives. Attorney Robbins gives his clients the time and individual attention they need to get through this process and the results that make a difference as they move on with the rest of their lives.