Whether it is with or without attorney assistance, we always recommend that family law issues be settled by agreement rather than a court trial. However, we understand that sometimes circumstances arise that make litigation inevitable. In such instances, we will advocate for your rights and make sure you are prepared for trial. Even on the day of trial, family law cases still have the option to settle. Being organized and prepared for trial aides in negotiation and achievement of the best terms possible. It is important to take the following into consideration prior to moving forward with a trial or an evidentiary hearing:
Time - The divorce process may take six to twelve months before a trial date is scheduled by the Court. It may take another three to six months to complete the trial hearings. The Judge may need another month or two to finalize an Opinion and then schedule entry of a Judgment to finalize the divorce. This prolonged court process may interfere with employment because it is very time consuming. Each court hearing may be scheduled for a couple hours each day until completed.
Money - On average, litigation costs typically exceed $10,000 to $35,000 per person. Attorney fees are billed by the hour which adds up quickly due to preparation, long meetings, correspondence, travel time and waiting at Court. Comparatively, mediation or collaborative law may range from $2,100 to $10,000 depending on the number of sessions and experts involved in the process.
Stress - It is a very painful and stressful process to have the entire marriage examined under a microscope in a pubic court setting. Friends, family, neighbors, and anyone who knows intimate details about each party may be required to testify. Social media, phone calls, text messages, and financial evidence may be submitted to Court and become part of the public record. The trial process is exhausting both physically and mentally. Some things may be taken out of context or misconstrued. Every little detail may be amplified and nothing will stop the trial unless there is a signed written agreement on all issues or a verbal agreement is placed on the Court record. Litigation typically continues once the trial is over due to enforcement issues over parenting time conflicts, property disputes, and support modification.
Alternative dispute resolution methods should be considered before committing to court hearings with a third party decision. Trial is typically the last resort when pending issues cannot be resolved directly through negotiations, meetings, mediation, shared neutral experts, collaboration and teamwork. The goal is to construct reasonable and respectful solutions that all parties can accept to in order to move forward and have closure.