These days, the vast majority of divorces are handled through negotiations which culminate in a final Settlement Agreement. Warring spouses put their grievances aside enough to hash out exactly how the marital property and debts need to be divided, along with any other relevant issues – such as what to do about parenting time with the children and what support needs to be provided.
It generally makes sense to do it this way, since an uncontested (unlitigated) divorce is usually cheaper, faster and less stressful for everyone. Typically, couples are also more satisfied with the outcome of the divorce when they both have some say about its terms.
All that being said, there are times when it’s probably better to take your divorce to court and let a judge call the shots. For example:
1. Mental Illness is driving unreasonable conflicts.
Even many high-conflict marriages can manage to get through an uncontested divorce with the right help – but some spouses are simply unable to disengage due to ongoing mental illness or transitory mental illness caused by the stress of the divorce process. Whether mental illness is chronic or temporarily induced by the divorce, rational thinking, or “best for all thinking” is absent. When there is no rational reasoning due to mental illness, then leaving the decision to the judge after trial may be the only choice. If your spouse is deeply narcissistic or has borderline personality disorder, for example, they may actually use the negotiation process simply to drag things along and punish you for all your “transgressions” against them. If your spouse clearly isn’t negotiating in a rational fashion, there may be no reason to waste your time at the bargaining table.
2. You have a sticking point where there is no room for compromise.
Maybe you and your spouse have grown apart over your disparate belief systems – and that’s affected your ability to raise your children together. If you both believe that the other’s stance on everything from medical care, religious instruction and schooling puts your children in danger, that’s usually not something that can be settled without the court’s intervention.
3. There are complicated financial issues or your spouse is hiding something.
If there’s a family business involved or some complex investments that have to be divided, you and your spouse may not be able to agree on how those assets should be valued. Litigation can provide the legal framework to thoroughly examine and fairly divide those financial holdings. Similarly, when a spouse is suspected of hiding assets, litigation allows for a formal discovery process that can ensure transparency in the process.
When you just want to move on and are hoping for a fairly quick and peaceful divorce, it can be disheartening to think that litigation is your only real option. Before you decide what path to take in your divorce, it may be wise to get an experienced legal take on the situation.
At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.
Let Me Be Your Brave
Mia Poppe, Esq.