The truth about complex divorce litigation

Some marriages are straightforward and some are most certainly not. Similarly, some divorces are straightforward and others are most certainly not. In cases of complex divorce, spouses cannot generally enjoy a simple negotiation process followed by filing of documentation and finalization. No, complex divorces often require the parties to engage in litigation.

In cases involving complex asset and debt division, contested child custody disputes and other thorny issues, litigation may be necessary in order for one or both parties to achieve their goals. However, choosing to litigate your divorce rather than mediate or otherwise approach it through negotiation should not be a choice made lightly. Though litigation may be necessary and an experienced attorney can help you navigate it successfully, complex divorce litigation is a uniquely challenging process.

First, it is important to understand that litigation often takes a substantial amount of time to complete. Unlike mediated or negotiated divorces, litigated divorces can get drawn out for years at a time. Not only can the parties make the process long and involved depending on their approaches, each time the case must be brought before a judge for various motions, the process will be dragged out at the mercy of the court's schedule.

Second, litigation can be emotionally and physically draining in ways that collaborative divorces are often not. When you and your former spouse are treating each other like enemies in the courtroom, the process can feel adversarial in ways that take a toll on one's heart, mind and body.

Finally, litigation does not always result in a fair outcome. Certainly, the courts do their best to achieve justice in complex cases and experienced attorneys will do what they can to help you achieve your goals. However, litigation assumes that there will be a winner and a loser. Unfortunately, such an adversarial process does not always result in triumph for the well-intentioned.

Sometimes divorce litigation cannot be avoided and sometimes it should not be avoided. But because it is a draining, adversarial and time-consuming process, participants should understand what they are getting themselves into right from the start.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Litigation: It's Not for Wimps," Jackie Pilossoph, May 28, 2013