Place your bets in the Divorce Trial Gamble

by - April 25, 2014

Divorce can be a tedious, stressful, emotionally exhausting and financially draining endeavor.

A divorce trial can make it even worse.

In fact, turning your case over to a Judge in an over taxed court system can make it much worse.

Think throwing yourself off a cliff without knowing how far you’ll fall, what you’ll land on and whether you’ll survive yet alone walk away in one piece.

Yes, it can be that bad, which is one of the main reasons I am a strong advocate of divorce mediation and a divorce mediator.  I’ve seen the devastation. I’ve felt despair when my client’s reasonable requests were denied or they were put through the ringer. (Yes, I actually care.)

Ideally, I’d like you to avoid the public court system, except of course, for the sole purpose of processing your divorce paperwork. But I understand if your spouse is being unreasonable on issues you can’t concede and/or pushing you toward a divorce trial. It happens.

I also understand that you may be wondering if the outcome in your divorce will be better if you go to trial, which also happens. My clients and I have had many victories in family court.

Which brings me to main point, going to trial is a gamble.

You could win or you could lose or you could win some and lose some. Sometimes its a crap shoot even if you and your attorney believe you have a good, strong case in the eyes of the law. Sadly, Judges don’t always see it “your” way despite the fact that they should – a tough pill to swallow.

So, how do you decide whether or not to take your case to trial?

It isn’t always easy to decide but being aware of some of the pros and cons of going to trial may help you make your choice.

Here are two lists of the positives and negatives of going to divorce court, which are drawn from my experiences in California and Hawaii’s courtrooms over the last twenty years.

Pros of a Divorce Trial:

    • If you are unable to communicate with or reach a decision with your spouse, a judge will do it for you
    • Once a decision is reached by a judge, unless it is set aside or overruled, it will become an enforceable Court order
    • If the law is clearly on your side in your case, the odds should be in your favor (but there’s no guarantee)
    • Ongoing relations with your ex could be less strained if the tough decisions are made by a Judge
    • You could be awarded more than your spouse was offering

Cons of a Divorce Trial:

    • You could be very unhappy with the Judge’s decisions
    • You lose control over the outcome in your divorce
    • Trials are expensive and demanding
    • Trials take time, which could keep you in the divorce process for months or years
    • You have to arrange your life around the Court’s calendar
    • The judge assigned to your case may have biases and prejudices that work against you
    • Courtrooms are public forums and transcripts, public record
    • Your relationship with your ex could be irreparably damaged and impact your children’s lives
    • Cross examinations can be brutal and intrusive
    • Some very hurtful things can be said to and about you
    • There’s no guarantee of a successful outcome

These are some of the broader pros and cons of divorce trials to consider. There may be many more specific to the circumstances in your case and issues in dispute. I recommend asking your divorce attorney to explain each of the possible outcomes and risks that are unique to the issues in your case. For example if you and your spouse own a home together and you are thinking about asking a Judge to decide who will get the house in the divorce, your attorney can explain the possible outcomes based and perhaps, the particular Judge’s recent rulings in other cases.

Because no one has a crystal ball, making the decision to take your divorce to trial is almost always a gamble.

If there is a chance of resolving your divorce without going to trial, I really recommend exploring that option. You may find a skilled divorce mediator has sufficient knowledge to help you and your spouse reach a settlement on even hotly contested issues. It happens all the time and many of the top divorce attorneys with multimillion and billion dollar clients will give mediation a shot before deciding to go to trial. You can do the same. If mediation doesn’t work, you can go to trial.

That said, if you’ve already tried everything and you can’t reach a settlement, I understand going to trial may be your only option. I coach divorcing men and women everyday as they move through the trial process.

Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not to take your divorce trial and there is always risk associated with doing so.

If you are contemplating a divorce trial and would like help determining whether it is your best option, my divorce coaching can help you gain clarity and the confidence to make your best choice. If you’d like to learn how my twenty years as a divorce attorney, in depth business and real estate experience and contemplative and psychology studies can help make your divorce easier, hop on over to this page now.

If you live in Marin or the San Francisco bay area and would like to determine if I can serve as your divorce mediator, you’ll learn more about my divorce mediation process and submit a confidential inquiry on this page.

Whichever choice you make, I wish you the best and hope for a positive outcome.

This article is not legal advice. You should consult an attorney if you have legal questions that relate to your specific divorce.