Why Go to Court when You can Settle Your Divorce Case Faster and Peacefully?

One contested divorce case took five years to settle, involved four different judges and six different divorce attorneys, and cost the husband about $400,000.00 in court fees, experts’ fees, lawyer’s fees (it was the husband who paid for everything, including the lawyer’s fee of his former wife). All these may sound horrifying; however, if compared to how hostile the court atmosphere turned, especially when the issue of spousal support came up, the above may even be considered the mild effects of this particular contested divorce case (it was actually the issue of spousal support which took the longest to settle since the wife’s lawyer kept urging her to decline her ex-spouse’s offer, which included $5,400 monthly payment until his retirement, half of everything in their million-dollar home and $50,000 cash).

Another divorce case, though, took only a few months to settle (this includes settlement of all divorce-related issues, including child custody, child support, visitation rights, alimony or spousal support, and division of properties, assets and debts). Though the spouses argued about certain things, this was brief and everything ended peacefully; this divorce procedure also was much less cheaper than the divorce case mentioned above.

In this divorce case, by the way, the only problems and difficulties the wife experienced came after the divorce case. These included changing her name in her passport, bank account and some other legal documents, and getting her ex-husband’s name removed from official papers (which required the sending of letters in triplicate to all agencies concerned).

The first case mentioned above is one example of contested divorce, which is the traditional way of ending a marital union. Contested divorce is settled in a family court, which is open to the public. Anyone can witness how spouses destroy and discredit one another through their respective lawyers, in order to win the favor of the judge who will decide on all divorce-related issues. Contested divorce can drag on for months, even for years and, there longer it takes to settle, the more expensive it becomes.

The second divorce case mentioned is an example of collaborative divorce, which is an alternative dispute resolution for divorcing couples. In this procedure, divorcing couples hire their own lawyers, whose job is to assist their own clients resolve conflicts through the use of cooperative techniques instead of adversarial strategies and litigation; the spouses may also seek the help of a mediator or other neutral experts, like an accountant and/or a child custody expert who can help settle a particular issue.

At the start of the collaborative process, the spouses and their lawyers make a commitment to achieve a negotiated outcome and enter into what is called a “Participation Agreement.” If no settlement is reached, based on the agreement entered into by all those involved, each of the spouses’ lawyers will have to withdraw from the process to allow the spouses to hire new lawyers who will represent them in court (for the adversarial contested divorce process).

Collaborative divorce is a divorce process wherein both parties try to work together to expedite the process. This works best when both individuals are willing to negotiate to avoid taking the matter to court, where the process would become more costly and time-consuming.

Besides enabling spouses reach an amicable agreement, other benefits of collaborative divorce include:

  • Making decision on how to handle post-settlement disputes;
  • Expediency of the divorce case;
  • More control over the outcome;
  • Less stress and anxiety;
  • Lesser costs compared to the traditional divorce process.

Contested Divorce

Divorce can be classified as contested and uncontested. Contested divorce occurs when the parties involved cannot agree on the divorce itself or its terms, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, division of assets and liabilities, and other legal matters.

Uncontested divorce is much easier. It means that the parties involved agree on the divorce and its terms without the need for legal professionals to distribute these assets and liabilities.

Contested divorces are often lengthy and expensive. This is because the disagreements between the parties need proper reconciliation, which often warrants legal help. It is better to be represented by a lawyer on contested divorce because of all its complexities, unlike uncontested divorce where a person may represent himself or herself and still be successful in the divorce process.

Common disagreements on contested divorce

  • Child custody: One of the most common issues involving divorce is child custody. It is a misconception that mothers always get custody of children. Courts don’t have biases against fathers. In fact, gender is not an issue in determining child custody. The main factor in the decision is the best interest of the child.
  • Child support: Divorces involving minor children have the legal issue of child support, to give sustenance to the child in terms of education, health, and other aspects relating to the child’s well-being. Like child custody, child support has the best interest of the child in mind.
  • Spousal support: A divorce can have a negative effect on the economic status of either party, especially if one of the parties is a non-earner or a low-earner. This is especially true if he or she has sacrificed a career for familial duties. For this reason, this party may be eligible to receive financial support from the other party, may it be short-term, long-term, or permanent.
  • Division of assets and liabilities: The family’s money, properties, debts, and other liabilities are divided upon divorce. These assets may include houses, retirement and pension plans, and even entire businesses. It is common sense that the parties will fight to get everything they possibly can.

When To Consider Filing For Divorce?

Getting married is one of the most important milestones that an individual can experience. Marriage is something that entails a lifetime commitment to the person you are marrying. It requires emotional, mental, and financial readiness. You do not get married thinking that in 1, 2, 5, or 10 years, you will become disappointed and hopeless that you married the wrong person.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. As they say, you will only get to know your partner once you get married. Marriage can be difficult in a lot of ways. It comes with a lot of pain and stress. It is not all about good times; there will also be tough times. That is why there is a promise of “for better or for worse” when couples are getting married.

While there are couples who are able to patch things up and able to survive the rough times of their marriage, there are others who are unable to resolve their differences, and conclude that their best option is divorce. While there are those who still believe that everything will work out fine for their marriage, there are others who think otherwise and decide to put an end to their marriage. While many people still believe that 50% of marriages end in divorce, the New York Times has shared statistics refuting this statistic.

Considering divorce entails a lot of thought for the couple. According to the website of Marshall & Taylor, PLLC, divorce can be a difficult and financially straining process. There are many factors that you need to consider before deciding to end your marriage and move on. Here are some questions that you need to answer before filing for divorce:

1. Is the marriage worth saving?

When you married your partner, you may have already been aware that there will be problems that will come along the way. When you gave your “yes” to your spouse when they proposed, you have already signified your readiness to tackle whatever difficulties you might encounter. With that in mind, you need to ask yourself if you can still salvage or work out your relationship.

2. Have you tried seeking help?

If you and your partner are not able to resolve your marriage issues by yourselves, you can always get professional help from marriage counselors and therapists. If counseling is not working, try to look for another counselor before saying “That’s enough.”

Remember that even the most skilled counselor will not be able to fix your marriage. The effort would have to come from you and your spouse. If you truly want to save your marriage, you need to put effrot into salvaging it.

3. Has it caused so much stress on your part?

Every relationship comes with stress. Whether its financial, emotional, oe mental, your married life will always come with stressors. If you feel stressed out, try to open up with your partner. It is the basically the reason why you are partners. You need to resolve your differences together.

4. Is your standard for marriage too high?

When you got married, you must have your own perception of marriage. Try to evaluate your standards perhaps you might be shooting for the stars or setting the bar too high. Perhaps this perception of yours might be putting pressure on your spouse. \

5. Do you still love for your spouse?

Perhaps this could be the biggest factor to consider when considering divorce. If there is no spark left, are you willing to re-ignite the fire?

Married life is not all about living happily ever after. It also has challenges and difficulties. Communication will always be important to make your marriage work. There is no such thing as perfect.