Heading into court to square off with your spouse is not going to be a pleasant experience. You can avoid all the potential acrimony by choosing to settle your differences outside of a trial. Working with your respective lawyers, you could reach a complete settlement agreement that resolves all the issues. Here are some reasons, below, for why you might want to consider this type of settlement process.

A great AVVO.com article also lists a host of benefits related to settling your divorce, as compared to taking it to court.  Generally speaking, the three big reasons for settling versus taking your matter to court are: predictability, cost, and personal stress.

1) Predictability.  If you choose to settle, you know the exact outcome of your matter, and agree to the terms ahead of time.  Trial outcomes are always a surprise--and not guaranteed to be fair, although that is ostensibly the goal.  With a settlement, you can decline the offer, and renegotiate, and continue the discussion until consensus is reached. 

Keep in mind, too, that with a court case, the other side may appeal a judge's final decision, dragging the process on a on into the future.  The other side may decide to review the court's rulings. The timing of a settlement process versus a trial is also more predictable.  Trial dates can be moved or dramatically delayed, due to a judge's schedule or alternative reasons. 


2) Cost. Preparing for trial is extremely expensive.  Documents may be requested during discovery in preparation for a court case that may not be requested if parties are settling.  This entire process is cumbersome and costly.  Even if you "win" on certain issues in trial, your case may be appealed.  If your case is appealed, circumstances change with the passage of time, your lawyers will need to prepare for trial once again, costing you additional money. 


3) Personal stress.  Even if you "win" going to trial with your case, you may not win on the every single issue, as divorce and custody situations are complex.  Also, Permanent Orders can be somewhat vague, whereas a Property Settlement Agreement or Separation Agreement, or even Parenting Plan, can go into extensive detail that can be very informative for the future, avoiding ongoing litigation. 

Keep in mind that your court date will be set months in advance--therefore, if you are not feeling well on the day of court, or have a family emergency, it will be difficult and stressful to reschedule your appearance.  The experience of going to court itself is highly stress-inducing.  Keep in mind that there is a condensed time frame for telling your side to the judge, and you absolutely will not be able to tell the judge everything.  In a negotiated settlement, while it can be a lengthy process also, you can agree to meet again on another day, to continue the conversation. 

Our attorneys at Smith Strong typically settle 80% of family law cases, or 4 out of 5.  With this kind of experience, we are adept at reaching outcomes that are favorable for you, our client, without the stress of a courtroom.
H. Van Smith
Connect with me
Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg