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What are the chances that your divorce will go to trial?

If you and your spouse agree in the issues in which major disagreements are most likely to break out in a divorce -- child custody, spousal support and division of substantial assets -- then your chances of going to trial are very low. And even if you disagree in one of those areas, but you have an experienced family law attorney, it is most likely that a favorable settlement -- one that both sides can live with -- will be negotiated and agreed upon.

After all, only about five percent of divorces end up going to trial. What makes those few divorces different than all the rest? It depends on the couple, of course, but there are a couple of notable factors that occur fairly frequently in the cases that go to trial.

  • Non-negotiable terms: when one spouse absolutely refuses to even negotiate on terms of an issue in dispute. Let's say the issue is spousal support, and a spouse with a significant income adamantly refuses not only to negotiate an amount of support with the spouse who has no income, but refuses to even discuss the issue of spousal support at all. The only way this might be resolved is for both parties to go to court and have their attorneys present arguments to the court. The risk there is, of course, that a judge who doesn't know either spouse will be making an important decision that could affect both parties for years to come.
  • Emotions: negotiations go on and on, and frustration mounts. "I can't stand any more haggling," a person thinks. "We are never going to settle this. Let's put it before a judge." While that might be the way to go, you and your attorney should discuss what you stand to gain financially by going to trial, and also what you might potentially lose. Sometimes it simply doesn't make financial sense (though it might make emotional sense) to litigate.

One of the best ways to gauge whether or not litigation makes sense for you in your circumstances is to ask your attorney, Forbes recommends. He or she isn't caught up in the emotions of the event as you are, and he or she has been through the process and can give you a good idea of the potential financial risks and rewards, as well as other factors involved, such as stress.

Adding up all the numbers and other crucial factors, and then carefully assessing the value of litigation with your attorney, will likely enable to you to determine whether or not going to trial will be worth it for you.

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