Divorce is typically devastating and challenging regardless of the issues that led to the end of a once-loving relationship. But, in most cases, spouses try to make the process less painful, time-consuming and expensive.
Statistics show that fewer than 10% of divorces go to trial. Uncontested divorces, where spouses agree on all major issues, such as time-sharing for children and distributing marital assets and income, can take only a few months to complete in Florida.
Key considerations for contested divorces
For the most part, even divorcing spouses who disagree on one or several issues avoid going to trial. Some turn to alternative dispute resolution, such as collaborative divorce, to resolve their differences amicably. If you are considering a divorce, here are four primary issues to weigh and discuss with your attorney:
How long will it take?
Divorce trials can last well over a year. You are at the mercy of the judge’s calendar and may be forced to miss work and rearrange your personal life. Settlements generally take a few months, and you and your soon-to-be-ex control the process, which is private.
How much will it cost?
Each divorce is different, but trials generally run well into the five-digit range as attorney fees, court costs and other related expenses quickly add up. Each settlement is unique, but most can be accomplished for much less.
How much stress can I handle?
Trials are contentious by nature. The process itself is stressful, which can boil over into your personal life and career. Negotiation and collaboration are peaceful methods designed to focus on areas of agreement and address conflicts in a positive manner.
What if my spouse won’t budge?
This may be the sole factor determining whether to litigate or settle your divorce. If your spouse insists on a larger share of parenting time or marital assets and refuses to negotiate, going to court and letting a judge make the final decision may be your best option.
Settlements set a positive tone for the future
While going to court might make sense in a few cases, settling your differences peacefully is generally the best approach for everyone, especially if you have children. The collaborative process often serves as a model for co-parents when differences arise. Talking to an attorney experienced in collaborative divorce can help you understand the process and the benefits for all parties.