No, it is not true that the only way to ensure that you’ll get your fair share in a divorce is by going to court.
Most often, court is a place of last resort. These days, budget-strained courts are overloaded with family law cases, many involving self-represented individuals. The vast majority of divorce cases are settled without the necessity of going to court, through a process of informed negotiation, in an effort to achieve a fair result for both parties.
Any issues relating to a divorce such as custody, support, property division, and attorney’s fees may be negotiated and agreed upon by the parties and their counsel. The parties would still engage in some type of discovery process whereby the assets, obligations, and incomes are determined. Once an agreement is reached, a Stipulated Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage (along with other required forms) is prepared and circulated between the parties and counsel for signatures. Thus, if they can agree on all terms of a settlement, the parties can achieve a fair resolution of all issues without ever going to the courthouse.
There are many benefits to this. No one is in a better position to understand what the best outcome is for a family than the parties themselves. Solutions can be more creative in a negotiated setting as opposed to asking a Judge to make a decision that may not be what either party ultimately wants. It is more cost-effective to resolve the matter in this fashion, and because the parties actively participate in achieving their own resolution, the outcomes are often more desirable, and implementation of the agreement is more successful than if the result had been imposed upon the parties by the court.
Paula J. Swensen is a Certified Family Law Specialist at Phillips Whisnant Gazin Gorczyca & Curtin, LLP, a family law firm in Newport Beach, California. View the firm’s Divorce Magazine profile.
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