Should You Go to Divorce Court?

Getting divorced can be a complicated process. Emotions are often high and can cloud the judgment of one or both parties. There are a number of issues that have to be resolved, especially if there are children, property and other assets involved.

Talk it Out

Frequently, the first step for a divorcing couple is to try to work things out between themselves. If that fails, they have their attorneys talk for them. The attorneys aren’t as emotional and understand the law better. Therefore, they can work out the details on behalf of their clients.

Sometimes, the couple and both attorneys will sit down together and try to work things out in a four-way meeting. The attorney's act as legal advisors and again, are unemotional about the relationship. If that doesn’t result in a resolution, mediation is becoming a more common way to resolve issues. In many counties, the Courts require mediation before the parties can have a trial. With mediation, the parties, either with or without counsel, will meet with a trained independent person to assist them in reaching an agreement.

After all of those steps, if a settlement still can’t be reached, the couple will have to go to court. There are several things to consider when deciding whether or not to go to court.

“Winning” Doesn’t Feel Like a Win

Going to court might mean that a person will get more of what he or she thinks they deserve in the divorce, but it may have unintended results. During a trial, the parties will often say unpleasant things about the other party, e.g., he/she was lazy and didn’t earn enough money, he/she wasn’t a good parent, etc. Very few parties are able to merely say good things about themselves at trial. They feel that, to maximize the chances of “winning”, they have to “bad-mouth” the other side. These are things he/she can’t take back once the dust has settled.

This might be acceptable if both parties truly never plan to communicate ever again, but often, there are children involved. One party isn’t just saying horrible things about the other party, he’s saying horrible things about the father/mother of his/her children. If he/she accuses him/her of being the worst parent in the world in the name of “winning” the case, co-parenting becomes increasingly difficult.

More Risk for Only Possible Reward

Going to court might help a party get more of the assets but it is frequently important to do an objective cost/benefit analysis. When you consider both the financial cost of trial, including fees, time missed from work, etc., as well as the emotional toll a trial can have, the victory may not be worth it. Is it worth it to go to trial and spend $5,000 in fees, miss three (3) days of work and be totally stressed out to get an extra $5,000 of retirement? Probably not.

Think of the Children

It’s awful when children are in the middle of a nasty divorce battle. Children are to be loved and cared for, not to be used as ammunition in a divorce.

Despite that, many parents forget that the children should not be involved in the divorce because of the tangential ramifications. In Colorado, overnights spent with the children can substantially affect the amount of child support. In other words, a “50/50” schedule could reduce the support paid by one party to the other by hundreds of dollars every month. Frequently, the difference between what a parent will receive or pay substantially affects his/her proposed parenting plan/visitation schedule. In negotiating, people should try and put the children first and not allow the financial impact to become his/her primary motivation.

In evaluating whether to go to trial, a party should always consider the risk factor as well as other factors. I have had parties regret their victories at trial because of the cost and, especially, because of the damage done to the parties’ ability to co-parent. Sometimes, the other party’s conduct doesn’t give you a choice, but, if you have a choice, consider all of the factors before making a decision.

Do you have questions about divorce? We’d love to set up a free consultation and answer questions. Give us a call at (720) 999-9506.

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