Are Divorces Always Litigated?

Every divorce case is unique. While many cases involve litigation — especially those that are contentious — a lengthy court battle isn’t necessary in all situations. In fact, there are several alternatives to divorce litigation that can help the parties keep expenses at a minimum, save time, and reduce stress.

What is Divorce Litigation?

When a divorce is litigated, the matter is contested. Specifically, this means that the spouses cannot agree on one or more of the issues that must be decided before a judge will sign the decree. Depending on the number of issues and the level of conflict between the parties, a litigated divorce can be lengthy and costly. Often, a significant amount of discovery and motion practice is involved.   

A judge will encourage the parties to work toward a resolution during the litigation process. If the parties cannot settle the issues that need to be determined through negotiations or an alternative dispute resolution method, the case will go to trial.

Alternatives to Litigation

If spouses can reach an agreement regarding child custody, support, alimony, and property division outside of court, the divorce process can be concluded faster and cost-effectively. There are several alternatives to litigation that parties to a divorce might consider to accomplish their goals. These include the following methods:

  • Negotiation — A divorce settlement agreement can be negotiated between the parties through their attorneys at any stage of a divorce case. Every aspect of a divorce can be negotiated and it’s important to have the guidance of an experienced attorney to ensure favorable results.
  • Mediation — Mediation is a commonly used alternative to litigation in divorce. It involves a neutral third party who facilitates respectful and healthy communication between the spouses to help them reach an agreement. Unlike litigation, mediation is private and the discussions between the parties do not become part of the public record. Mediation can be particularly beneficial for parties who wish to remain amicable for co-parenting purposes.
  • Collaborative divorce — Similar to mediation, the collaborative divorce process allows spouses to work out an agreement and settle their divorce outside of court. Rather than let a judge decide the outcome, spouses work with their attorneys and a team of professionals to resolve the issues unique to their situation. A collaborative team might include a mental health professional, a financial advisor, and a divorce coach, depending on the issues in the case.
  • Arbitration — Divorce arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is similar to a mini-trial. A trained arbitrator conducts a hearing, evaluates the evidence, and listens to the testimony of the parties. They will then render a decision, which is legally binding on the parties.

Alternatives to litigation are not appropriate in every divorce case. For instance, in situations where a spouse is hiding assets or in cases involving domestic violence, a fair outcome may not be achieved outside of court. It’s important to discuss the specific issues in your case with an experienced divorce attorney who can advise you regarding the best course of action.    

Contact an Experienced New York Divorce Litigation Attorney

If you are going through a divorce, it’s critical to have a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can protect your rights and help you navigate the legal process. The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP has been providing diligent counsel and adept advocacy for divorce and family law matters for more than 70 years. Call (212) 425-1999 to schedule a consultation or contact us now.