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Avoiding Court in Your Divorce Case

In most divorce cases, there are quite a few issues to be resolved, from division of property to child custody to financial support and everything in between. If any or all of these issues end up in front a Judge, the end result will inevitably be unpredictable. After all, a Judge is a complete stranger to the two parties who only hears testimony and reviews evidence for a few days. That complete stranger then makes decisions that will affect the divorcing couple for the rest of their lives. In fact, the only wholly predictable outcome of a trial is that it will cost both sides a lot of money.

In most divorce cases, there are quite a few issues to be resolved, from division of property to child custody to financial support and everything in between. If any or all of these issues end up in front a Judge, the end result will inevitably be unpredictable. After all, a Judge is a complete stranger to the two parties who only hears testimony and reviews evidence for a few days. That complete stranger then makes decisions that will affect the divorcing couple for the rest of their lives. In fact, the only wholly predictable outcome of a trial is that it will cost both sides a lot of money.

In light of the foregoing, it is no wonder why most divorce cases are resolved outside of the courtroom. But what are the best strategies for getting to an agreement in your divorce case?

Perhaps the most critical component of reaching an agreement is to become educated. To make the best possible decisions in your case, you must know the facts of your case and you must obtain good legal advice. While you and your spouse know more about your marriage than anyone else, your attorney has the tools to discover any gaps in your knowledge. For example, if your spouse is hiding a bank account, your attorney can often find this out. Your attorney then has the obligation to use those facts and educate and counsel you in an effort to assist you in making a decision on the various issues in your case. Such counseling includes letting you know what the law is on a particular issue, and creating reasonable expectations about what the range of outcomes could be with respect to that issue.

It is also imperative to start discussing settlement from the outset. While the parties can reach an agreement all the way up until a Judge makes a decision and signs an order memorializing that decision, the most cost-effective resolutions are made well before then. It is never too early to start exploring the resolution of potential issues, even if there is work to be done before putting anything in writing.

Once you have all the information you need to make a decision, then it's time to talk specifics and trade settlement proposals. Usually this starts with one side making a written proposal to the other. However, there are more focused methods of discussing settlement, with two of the most common being settlement conferences and mediations.

A settlement conference often includes the two spouses and their attorneys, and is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone sits down in a room and they determine whether there is any middle ground or agreement to be reached on the various issues. Mediation usually involves a neutral third party, often times a retired Judge, who facilitates a settlement discussion between the parties and their attorneys. Of course there are variations and other ways to discuss settlement, with the constant being the two spouses' willingness to come to an agreement and avoid Court.

Once an agreement is reached, there is no trial and no stress or expenditure associated with going to trial.

The attorneys at The Duff Law Firm have ample experience negotiating marital settlement agreements, and navigating the Court system. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your particular situation with an attorney, please contact us for a complimentary, 30-minute consultation. Call: (703) 591-7475.

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Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C.
11320 Random Hills Road
Suite 630
Fair Oaks Commerce Center
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703-591-7475
Fax: 703-273-4537
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