Depending upon the circumstances, divorce can be a contentious and bitter experience. However, most couples who decide to end their marriage understand that it’s in both parties’ best interests to work together to make the process as painless as possible.

But sometimes it’s not that easy, such as when parents can’t agree on custody arrangements for their children, or one spouse wants more than their fair share of marital assets. Before letting a judge make those decisions for you, consider some fundamental factors.

Should you negotiate or go to court?

While there are many intense emotions involved with divorce, your attorney will fight for the best personal and financial outcome for you. When deciding whether negotiation or litigation is the best route, consider these vital factors:

  • Time: Trials can take more than a year as you are at the mercy of the court’s calendar. Your work schedule and personal routine will be disrupted for hearings and meetings with your lawyer.
  • Cost: The longer your divorce takes, the more you will pay for court costs and attorney fees. While expenses vary, you can expect a trial to cost in the five-digit range while settlements are much lower.
  • Stress: A long and contentious process can take its toll on a family’s emotional health, especially when children are involved. It can also set the tone for post-divorce relationships between former spouses and their families.
  • Outcome: Sometimes, there is little or no choice other than to go to trial, especially when a spouse refuses to negotiate in good faith over custody or dividing assets. This may be one of the few times when choosing litigation is the best option.

Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment

An experienced family law attorney here in Washington can help you sort through these considerations and choose the best route for your future well-being. Going to court is not a good way to “get back” at a spouse.

Judges expect to hear rational, law-based arguments on why you deserve more time with your kids or a larger share of marital assets. Your lawyer will help you determine the best strategy and protect your interests, whether it’s through negotiation or litigation.