Why it is Better to Settle in a Divorce Case Instead of Letting it Go to Trial

Divorced client sitting with attorney

When going through a divorce, you might be asking yourself many questions and second-guessing your decisions on various topics. It can be hard to know how your decisions today will impact you 10 years down the road.

One of the most challenging questions is whether to enter into a settlement with your spouse or have a judge decide your case. You should always do what makes sense in your situation. Here are a few reasons why it is better to settle in a divorce case instead of letting it go to trial. An Alaska divorce attorney can handle your case and help you navigate through the process. 

You Can Get a Quicker Result with a Settlement Than with a Trial

If you and your spouse are willing to agree to fair and reasonable settlement terms, your divorce could be over before your friends even know about it. You are allowed to settle your divorce case at any point, even in the middle of trial. 

A lot of people reach an agreement on all the details of child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, property distribution, and debt allocation before they even file for divorce. When this happens, they are able to get a quick, non-contested divorce without the need for a trial. 

Trials Are Expensive

Imagine that you have a two or three-day-long divorce trial. Your lawyer will likely have to spend at least 10 hours out of court gathering documentation, preparing evidence for court, engaging in discovery, and doing other pretrial preparation for every hour that you are in court.

If you multiply all of those hours by your attorney’s hourly rate, you can get a ballpark estimate of how much a divorce trial could cost you. Now think about, instead, having that money in your pocket to help you build your new life.

You Have More Control Over the Outcome of Your Case with a Settlement Than With a Trial

In a divorce trial, you do not get to decide on the terms of the divorce decree unless you and your spouse have agreed on specific items before trial and limited the trial to the unresolved issues. All items covered in the trial will be decided by a total stranger, the judge, who does not know you or your family. If you want to have some control over your future and the futures of your children, the only way to accomplish that goal is to try to reach a reasonable settlement of your divorce case.

You Avoid the Hidden Costs of Going to Trial.

In addition to the reasons I listed above, you also avoid what I call the hidden costs of going to trial, which are:

The emotional stress of waiting to get the judge’s decision 

If you settle, your case is over and done with and you can move on to the next stage of your life.  But if you go to trial, you will probably be left in emotional limbo. Why? The answer is simple:  It takes a long time for a judge to make a decision – particularly now that criminal jury trials are starting up again and the court system is frankly overwhelmed.  I have one case in which the last day of trial was April 21, 2021.  We do not have a final decision. 

Further, even once we do, the side who is unhappy with the outcome has the absolute right to ask the Alaska Supreme Court to review the decision and to overturn it.  Lastly, depending on the types of issues, it is possible the Court will send the decision back to the trial judge to have him or her conduct further proceedings.  Even if you have been able to move on with your life, the nagging doubt about your case is going to stay in your life.

The Loss of Personal Productivity 

Over the last two and a half years, most of us have experienced a loss of personal productivity personally and professionally because of the pandemic. First, there was the preoccupation with not knowing what the future was going to bring.  Then there was the stress of the lockdown.  It is quite common for my clients to talk about the loss of their personal or professional productivity in the months and weeks before a divorce trial.  There are meetings with the attorney and perhaps an accountant.  You will have to spend time gathering financial information to exchange with your spouse.  The other attorney may want to take your deposition.  Then there is the trial itself. While trial lasts only five hours, you can expect your attorney will be working 10 hours a day and will need your help.

Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

These are just a few of many reasons why it could be to your advantage to resolve your divorce case by reaching a settlement rather than having to go to trial. Of course, not every divorce case can get resolved by settlement. Sometimes, the only solution is to go to trial and have a judge decide the results. If your spouse will not agree to fair or reasonable terms, you will likely have to go to trial. 

Whether you resolve your case with a settlement or need to have a divorce trial, an Alaska divorce attorney can protect your legal rights and interests. Get in touch with our office today for a free consultation.

Posted in: Divorce