Most couples understand that the easiest and most cost-effective route to divorce is by working together for a reasonable settlement. But divorce can be a painful and emotional experience, resulting in a contentious fight.

While both parties want the process to be quick and painless, sometimes it’s just not that simple. Before you dig in your heels for a protracted court battle, consider the pros and cons of settling before turning to a judge to make decisions for you.

Arguments in favor of reaching a settlement

Despite the strong emotions that spouses feel when their marriage comes to an end, they should consider the practical effects of negotiating vs. litigating. Here are the main benefits of settling:

  • Saving time: Trials can take more than a year, which is usually months longer than reaching a divorce agreement. A trial will affect your personal life as well as your career as you’ll have to make time to attend court hearings and spend a considerable time meeting with your attorney.
  • Saving money: The longer a trial goes, the more you will pay in attorney and court fees. Those and other related expenses can multiply quickly. While the total cost varies for each case, you can expect to pay in the mid to upper five-digit range for litigation.
  • Reducing stress: A long and bitter trial can take a severe toll on you and your family’s emotional health, especially when children are involved. Those negative feelings can intrude on every part of your life at home and work. Working together to settle differences benefits everyone.

When is going to trial the right option?

Some spouses may do their best to encourage a collaborative process when ending their marriage. However, when the two parties reach a stalemate, a trial may be their only resort for:

  • Achieving a fair outcome: If you and your attorney have exhausted all efforts to negotiate a fair settlement, going to trial may be the only option – especially in high-asset divorces. Having a judge decide may be the only way to achieve an equitable division of assets, while for others, it may be needed for an acceptable child custody arrangement.

Don’t go to trial to punish a spouse

While many people who file for divorce may have valid reasons for anger and resentment against their partner, those feelings are typically not the best grounds for going to court. Judges expect to hear rational and law-based arguments on why you deserve a greater amount of assets or more time with your kids. An experienced family law attorney here in Washington can help you determine the optimum route for achieving the best outcome.