Divorce Options – Traditional Representation (Including Litigation)

You are each represented by a lawyer, who negotiates on his or her own client’s behalf.

Benefits/Advantages of Traditional Representation:

  • There are external standards
  • The law may provide clear guidance on your rights (what you and your spouse or partner get or give up)
  • There is a set timeline, with deadlines, which moves the case along and creates pressure and incentive to settle
  • You can still stay out of court: the vast majority of divorcing and separating couples reach a negotiated agreement before a judge makes a decision
  • There is a voice for each of you and you have the opportunity to have your story told to someone in authority
  • In the absence of an agreement, the judge makes the decisions for you, usually putting an end to impasse
  • Your spouse or partner can be compelled to act or refrain

Risks/Disadvantages of Traditional Representation:

  • The law does not always provide clear, predictable, or objective answers
  • Your spouse’s lawyer is not necessarily concerned about your welfare or your relationship with your spouse or partner
  • Litigation usually takes more time than mediation or a collaborative divorce and typically costs more
  • You and your spouse or partner may need to hire separate experts and evaluators rather than jointly retain them
  • There is a win/lose mindset rather than a sense of working together
  • Litigation is public and creates a permanent record
  • There are court delays
  • Your judge may not have any family law experience
  • The process is lawyer-driven, rather than client-driven
  • What a judge decides can be limited by:
    • the evidence (e.g., the judge has limited discretion)
    • the law (for example; a court can’t order child support for college costs); and
    • his or her own bias or life experiences
  • if you do not settle, litigation is not a voluntary process; you have lost control of the outcome
  • The pressure of a looming court dates and costs can result in unwise decisions
  • Litigation is polarizing and typically damaging to your relationship and children