Contentious Divorce: Should You Settle or Go to Court?

Contentious Divorce: Should You Settle or Go to Court?

In an ideal world, a divorcing couple would quickly settle their issues and finalize their divorce without spending too much money. Unfortunately, this is not always the outcome. While some couples split amicably and try to compromise, many divorces are contentious. It is not uncommon for a person to not want to divorce. They may be angry and caught off guard. As a result, they may seek revenge and make the divorce process as nasty and complicated as possible.

Many experts believe that you should opt for a quick settlement if you can. Sometimes, it is just not possible when you have a spouse who is unwilling to budge and everything is “my way or the highway.” This creates a dilemma for many people. Should you just give in to your spouse’s demands even though you don’t think the terms are fair? Should you try to negotiate? Or is it better to go to court and let a judge decide the terms of your property division, child custody, alimony and other factors of your divorce? The decision is yours, but here are some important aspects to consider.


An uncontested divorce can take just a few months to finalize. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the major issues, then finalizing everything can take much longer. It is not uncommon for contentious divorces to take more than a year to resolve. A trial is scheduled based on the court’s calendar, so do not expect an appointment with the judge the next week—or even the next month. Courts are often very busy, so expect to wait several months to get your case heard, depending on your jurisdiction. You may have to appear in court multiple times, so you will need to spend time in preparation with your lawyer. Plus, keep in mind that you will have to take time off work to appear in court.

Going to trial is lengthy and costly, so if there is any way to settle your issues without litigation, then by all means, do it. You can finalize your divorce quickly so you can move on. However, if you and your spouse simply cannot come to an agreement on anything, then continuing on with mediation and negotiations is not worth your time. You can just skip all this, avoid the frustration and wait for your day in court.


If you are looking for a cheap divorce, then you will want to try to settle outside of court. Going to trial is the quickest way to up the price tag of your divorce. Court costs and lawyer fees quickly add up. Preparing for the courtroom takes time, and time is money. It is not uncommon for litigation to cost a figure in the range of high five digits—even six figures is not unheard of. If you are like many people, that is probably a bit out of your price range. Opt for a settlement agreement if at all possible.

Your Desired Outcome

If you cannot come to an agreement with your spouse, then it may be worth it to have a judge hear your case. If you could not agree on property divisions, child custody or other issues, then it is possible that you may get a good outcome in court. There is no guarantee by going to court, so that is a risk that you will have to discuss with your lawyer. Your lawyer can help you understand your chances of success.

Keep in mind that the court does not care about your issue with your spouse. The judge is focusing on the law and why you are deserving of more assets, child custody or whatever else you desire. Therefore, you should not plan to go to court simply to complain. You will need a strong case in order to succeed. Also, you need to consider the fact that the court may not rule in your favor. You need to be able to accept the judge’s decisions. You can appeal, but expect the process to take more time and money.


A divorce is one of the most emotional events a person can do through. Ending a marriage—possibly a relationship that lasted decades—is no minor thing. Going from married life to single life can be scary. Settling all the major issues takes an emotional toll on a person.

This stress can affect one’s physical health as well. It can affect not only their personal life but their work life. You are essentially at your lawyer’s beck and call, so you will need to be available at all times and be prepared for impromptu meetings and requests. You are likely to become frustrated, and this can make it hard for you to be civil to your spouse during negotiations. However, going to trial can be even more stressful. Having to state your case in court in front of a judge can be nerve-wracking, to say the least. If you can avoid a nasty courtroom battle, it will be less stressful in the long run.

Seek Legal Help

While many people would agree that settling can be a quick and easy way to finalize a divorce, sometimes it is better to fight for your rights, especially when there is a lot at stake.

Sometimes it is hard to compromise with your spouse on important issues, but there are some aspects to consider. Get help from Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler. He can advise you of your next steps. Schedule a consultation by calling (954) 346-6464.