Ending a marriage is no small feat, and couples must resolve numerous complex issues. While some couples can end their unions amicably through a collaborative process, traditional litigation is the best option for others. At Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we understand the intricate processes of traditional litigation. We have the resources necessary to fight for your best interest and increase the odds of your marriage ending in a manner beneficial to your future.
Traditional litigation is what comes to mind when most people think about divorce. It involves both parties presenting their cases in court and allowing a judge to help resolve contentious issues. Some of the problems most couples have trouble agreeing upon include child custody, property division, and alimony, to mention a few.
Traditional Divorce Litigation Defined
Traditional litigation or adversarial divorce is a process of ending a marriage that involves allowing the court to help resolve matters in dispute. These matters could include asset and debt distribution, child support, visitation rights, etc. Cases often involve a lengthy and expensive process, and while either party can represent themselves, it is better to retain a skilled and seasoned attorney.
Your attorney will conduct discovery and table evidence and arguments in court until the case is determined. There are essential court rules and procedures you must comply with when presenting motions or reviewing legal briefs. This ensures order in court even as couples state their claims, assert their positions and fight to achieve an outcome favorable to them, irrespective of what the other party wants.
Contrary to popular belief, traditional litigation is not an option solely meant for couples that cannot agree on anything. The divorce option is also ideal for parties that agree on all issues but one. If you and your soon to be Ex cannot compromise on an aspect like child custody, the court can help you settle the matter. The judge acts as the neutral party and issues orders from an unbiased perspective.
When a traditional court-based divorce is your best option, it is crucial to have a skilled and competent divorce lawyer on your corner. Adversarial processes are better handled by an attorney with extensive trial experience and a proven track record. If the issue at stake is something as serious as parental relocations, property division, or child support, you need the assistance of a skilled professional with a wealth of experience and success stories.
Traditional Litigation Process
Traditional litigation divorce involves a lengthy process that begins with initiating a case with the local district court. Because an adversarial divorce can be stressful and expensive, you should consider it a last resort. If traditional litigation is your best option for protecting your best interests, here is the process to expect:
Court Filing and Information Gathering
After filing a case, your attorney will then focus on gathering information about the assets, income, and debts belonging to you and your partner. If your union has children, gathering information about their needs and current living circumstances will also be necessary.
Other professionals required to compile reports and provide factual information usable in court include business evaluators, property appraisers, and child experts.
Strategy Development & Settlement
Painting the picture of what a fair settlement should look like is easier when you have all the information at your fingertips. A competent attorney will always be honest when discussing the kind of settlement the court will likely grant. It remains imperative to understand that a bit of compromise can assist in ensuring you enjoy a favorable outcome irrespective of the issue that requires resolving.
If you and your partner can meet each other in the middle, your divorce case will potentially not go to trial. However, your attorney will focus on trial preparation if you do not settle pre-trial. The process is time intensive and often involves preparing arguments, evidence, and witnesses that can help support your case during trial.
Another possible step after the trial is a post-trial appeal. It is common for one party to go home without the desired outcome. If this happens to you, all is not lost, and you can return to court to appeal against the passed judgment. A skilled lawyer can help you prepare for the appeal and hopefully give you a better chance of enjoying a favorable outcome.
Whether you opt for traditional litigation or other divorce alternatives, the result is always the same. In both cases, the judge will sign the dissolution judgment affirming you are legally divorced from your ex. The parties involved must follow all the terms and conditions in the settlement agreement, or the court will compel them to do as ordered.
Pros and Cons of Traditional Litigation Divorce
In some situations, traditional litigation is more appropriate or necessary to ensure the effective resolution of contentious issues. If traditional litigation gives you your best shot of securing a favorable divorce outcome, it is crucial to understand the perks and potential drawbacks of the process.
Traditional Litigated Divorce Advantages
- No need to compromise — An adversarial divorce makes it unnecessary for parties to make significant compromises. Asserting your position and laying out your demands without considering your partner's wishes is perfectly okay. The process allows you to fight for what you believe is fair.
- Communicating with your ex is unnecessary — If communication between you and your ex-spouse is an uphill task, your attorney can handle all communications. The move is particularly beneficial for couples undergoing a highly contentious divorce and cannot agree on anything.
- The judge's decision is based on the law — Because parties don't need to consider making compromises, the judge will make decisions according to the law. If your partner is making unreasonable demands over child custody, for instance, the judge will use the law and make a decision purely in the children's best interests. It is not necessary for the court ruling to favor either partner.
- Children enjoy more protection — Fighting for the custody of your children against an abusive but financially endowed partner can be challenging, especially if you opt for collaborative divorce. With traditional litigation, however, the court considers the best arrangement for a child's well-being and future. Judges take matters of child neglect, abuse, and abandonment seriously, not just a parent's financial muscle.
- Subpoena power — When a judge issues a subpoena to aid discovery, hiding assets or debts becomes a criminal offense. Traditional litigation works favorably, especially when fighting a partner who refuses to disclose their financial information honestly.
Traditional Litigation Divorce Disadvantages
- Expensive divorce process — The most notable drawback of traditional litigation is that your wallet will take a significant hit. Highly contentious proceedings are time intensive, leading to more court and attorney fees. Giving the collaborative process precedence over litigation is best if you cannot handle a substantial financial loss when filing for divorce.
- Litigation is inherently adversarial — If you choose to settle a divorce matter in court, you and your ex will be on opposing sides. A judge can only make a final ruling after you have presented your demands and arguments. It is common for the situation to get intense with contention even when couples can agree on certain divorce-related matters.
- A favorable outcome is not guaranteed — Judges will always try their best to pass a fair ruling based on the law. However, not even the best judge can understand your situation as well as you do. There is always a chance that you will not be entirely pleased with the ruling.
It is common for people considering divorce to feel torn about the divorce process to pursue. You can avoid making the wrong choice by first consulting with a seasoned divorce attorney. Also, prepare an after-divorce budget and use it as a guide when negotiating your divorce settlement. If a specific compromise can result in a drastic drop in your living standards or even your financial ruin, it is better to give traditional litigation divorce a shot.
At Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we believe you have the right to want to protect your best interests and future. You can trust us to fight by your side and give you maximum chances of enjoying a suitable outcome even after ending your marriage.
Alternatives to Traditional Divorce Litigation
Traditional divorce is stressful, expensive, and time-intensive. Whenever possible, couples try to avoid the process and consider other alternatives to legally ending their unions.
Here are five main alternatives to avoiding the emotionally and financially devastating process involved when filing for traditional divorce litigation:
One of the best alternatives to traditional litigation is divorce mediation. It involves a mediator hired by the couple initiating talks to ensure the divorce is settled out of court. The mediator is usually a neutral party that looks out for the best interests of all the parties involved, including the children.
Because of the effectiveness of divorce mediation in most divorce processes, some courts will require you to attempt the process before considering traditional litigation. If you can agree on all the divorce-related issues, you only need a lawyer to prepare the needful paperwork and finalize your divorce.
Hiring a mediator is viable if you lack adequate finances to retain an attorney throughout the divorce process. This option allows you to handle specific steps in person and only retain an attorney to provide guidance in areas of dispute or lend a hand with the paperwork. Seasoned divorce lawyers often make the best mediators and can give you maximum chances of settling out of court.
It is imperative to understand that mediation gives couples a chance to maintain control of the outcome of their divorce. They enjoy a front-row seat in the decision-making process. The mediator only steps in to help find mutually beneficial solutions on matters where the couples struggle to agree.
Collaborative divorce is the best option for couples looking to go their separate ways and still maintain privacy and civility. The process involves using an interest-based approach during negotiations to ensure the needs of both parties are met through mutually beneficial solutions.
One of the biggest perks of collaborative divorce is that the process aims to heal the family and allow the main parties involved to make personalized decisions about their kids, finances, and future. This is quite the opposite of traditional litigation, where a judge decides your fate, and the final judgment will not necessarily suit the best interests of either party.
There are stack similarities between divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. The main difference is that during collaborative divorce, the couples meet separately with their lawyers and then with each other's attorneys. Also, other professionals could come on board, like a child custody expert, to help the couples agree on matters involving the children.
If you cannot file for divorce in California because you do not meet the residency requirement, you can consider filing for legal separation. The process will not end the marriage, although it will allow you to obtain court orders on matters related to property division, child support, debt allocation, and visitation rights.
Legal separation only provides a temporary solution for couples who can no longer cohabit and do not meet the residency requirement to undergo divorce. It is also an ideal choice for parties that do not want to go through the divorce process because of financial, religious, or personal reasons. However, you will still need to go through traditional litigation, collaborative divorce, or divorce mediation to end your marriage legally if you want to marry another person. You can always change a legal separation case to a divorce once you meet the requirements to dissolve a marriage in California.
Choosing between legal separation and divorce is a very personal issue. Some people even choose legal separation because it is emotionally easier on them and their children. The option keeps your marriage status intact, allowing you to think through your decisions and decide whether you want to proceed with divorce at a later date.
Also, legal separation allows spouses to continue sharing spousal privileges like health insurance benefits. It is crucial to seek counsel from a seasoned family attorney to make an ideal choice for you and your loved ones.
A divorce annulment is a court order stating that your marriage is not legally valid. An annulment makes it seem like a marriage never happened because the law prohibits certain aspects of the union. The court order can invalidate a marriage because of:
- Close blood relations
- One party was not of legal age (at least 18 years old) when exchanging vows.
- One party agreed to enter the marriage under force, fraud, or pretense
- At the time of the wedding, one partner was mentally incapacitated
- A marriage involved bigamy (one or both partners were still legally married to someone else)
Most divorce cases do not qualify for an annulment. If your marriage does not meet any of the above mentioned reasons, you must consider other divorce alternatives, irrespective of how long your union lasted.
Summary dissolution is yet another alternative to traditional litigation divorce. The process involved is easier and faster and allows you to end your marriage legally. However, there are strict requirements you must meet to qualify for summary dissolution. These requirements include:
- Your marriage must not have lasted for more than five years.
- Your union must not have children or shared property like land or buildings.
- You or your partner have lived in California for the past six months and have maintained a residence in the county you will be filing the summary dissolution for the past six months.
- Your overall shared property does not exceed $45,000 in value (excluding cars)
- Your separate property does not exceed $45,000 (excluding vehicles)
- Apart from your current residence, you do not rent any other buildings or land as a couple.
- Your overall debt as a couple does not exceed $6,000
- Neither spouse demands alimony, and you have a signed property and debt division agreement.
One of the prime perks of seeking legal counsel from a seasoned divorce lawyer is that the expert will inform you about your divorce options. If you qualify for summary dissolution, the process offers you a faster, cheaper, and easier way of ending your marriage. The professional will analyze your situation thoroughly and dispense reliable guidance on the ideal divorce option to consider based on your unique situation.
Find a Divorce Attorney Near Me
Traditional litigation is not for the faint-hearted and should only be considered a last resort. If it is the most viable option to help protect your best interests and future, you must not underestimate the importance of hiring an experienced and well-reviewed family attorney. At Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer, we understand that the alternatives to traditional litigation are not always practical options. When dealing with an abusive partner or one hooked on substance abuse, for instance, the unusually high level of conflict makes it better to let a judge be the decision maker. Our experienced team has the knowledge and access to resources that can give you a fair winning chance. Call us today at 310-695-5212 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.