Contested divorces that go to trial make headlines, but divorce trials are time-consuming, emotionally wrenching, and expensive. Most of the time, there are viable alternatives to trial that achieve your desired results.
Agreement: If you and your spouse are able to agree on broad issues like child custody and support, division of community and separate property, and spousal support, you should be able to avoid trial. If your divorce will be amicable, it is best to outline all areas of agreement prior to meeting with your attorney. Bring a list of initial agreements to your first appointment, along with your financial and other documentation. After your attorney’s initial review, they can provide feedback, suggest other areas to discuss with your spouse, and ensure that you are getting a fair shake.
Mediation: if you and your spouse are at odds about the terms of the divorce, you can still avoid trial by consulting with a mediator. As an impartial third party, a mediator can help frame the discussion of contested issues so that both you and your spouse can arrive at an agreement. While mediation may not resolve every dispute, progress can often lead to a concrete settlement.
Collaboration: A collaborative divorce relies on cooperation between you and your spouse, as well as on legal advice and representation. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse retains a collaborative attorney, and the four of you sign an agreement that you will not go to trial. Typically, you and your spouse each meet separately with your attorneys, and then you all meet together to hash out the terms of the divorce.
Negotiation: In a negotiated divorce settlement, your attorney represents your interests and negotiates in good faith with your spouse’s attorney. Because emotions are removed from the equation, your attorneys can typically arrive at an agreement that is equitable for both parties. If the negotiations fail and a compromise can’t be reached, then the case will move to trial and become adversarial.
There are many advantages to avoiding a divorce trial. Avoiding a fight in court typically leads to a better long-term relationship with your ex-spouse – something that is particularly valuable if you have children. In the absence of a trial, the divorce process is often quicker, cheaper, and more private. In addition, you’ll have more control over the terms of the divorce since a judge will not be making the decisions.
There are times, though, when a divorce trial might be preferable to an agreement, mediation, collaboration, or negotiation. For example, if you believe that your spouse is hiding assets or income, a subpoena might be necessary. Litigation is your only opportunity to compel financial disclosure. In addition, if your spouse has a history of domestic violence or drug or alcohol abuse, a trial is often necessary.
If you are considering a divorce and are interested in discussing alternatives to a trial, call Griffith, Young & Lass at 858-345-1720 for your free consultation. Our attorneys have extensive experience negotiating divorce settlements and avoiding divorce trials.