Divorce negotiations in Pennsylvania and around the country can be extremely draining, and spouses sometimes decide to forgo further discussion and leave property division, child custody and spousal support decisions up to a family court judge. While this may seem like an attractive option to divorcing spouses who are fed up with bitter arguments, they may be wise to consider the negative aspects of litigation before taking this path.
Time and money
Divorcing spouses who expect a short court battle are likely to be disappointed as these cases often take a year or more to litigate. Court costs and legal fees can mount quickly during a trial, which means spouses may walk away with less than they were offered at the negotiating table even if the judge awarded them more. Another thing to bear in mind is that there is no guarantee either party will be happy with the judge’s decision.
Publicity and stress
Divorce negotiations take place in private settings, but a courtroom is a public venue. This means that relatives, neighbors, coworkers or even curious members of the public could show up to watch the proceedings. Civil trials can also be extremely stressful. Going through a divorce is difficult enough, but the pressure of a protracted court case could make the experience overwhelming.
Alternatives to court
Experienced family law attorneys may advise divorcing spouses to persevere with discussions and view litigation as a last resort. When conventional negotiations fail to produce a breakthrough, attorneys may suggest alternative approaches like collaborative divorce or mediation. Attorneys might explain that mediation is not binding and far less expensive than a trial. They may also point out that an approach based on identifying common ground and working from points of agreement sometimes produces results even if the spouses thought litigation was inevitable.