There’s little doubt that divorce is an extremely stressful process even when spouses are able to maintain a civil and respectful relationship. But keeping the peace isn’t always easy when one spouse wants more than their fair share of marital assets or more time with their kids.

A fundamental question for those ending their marriage is whether to seek a quick and painless process by negotiating for a fair outcome, or whether it’s worth it to let a judge decide their fate if they feel their spouse is unreasonable.

Settle or go to trial? Four factors to weigh

Most divorcing partners understand that working together can lead to a faster and less expensive process. But it’s not always that easy. Here are four things to consider:

  • Time: Much time can be wasted in negotiations if one or both spouses refuse to give an inch over critical issues, such as dividing property or child custody arrangements. On the other hand, trials can easily take more than a year, depending upon a court’s calendar.
  • Money: The longer it takes to negotiate or litigate, the more expensive the process will be. Settlements are typically accomplished much more quickly, saving both parties thousands of dollars. If you go to trial, you’ll also pay court fees and related expenses as well as increased attorney fees.
  • Emotion: The longer a divorce goes, stress levels are likely to stay high, especially when it’s already a contentious situation. Working together for a settlement tends not only to lower stress for everyone involved but can set a positive tone for a future co-parenting relationship.
  • Results: This may be the one factor where going to court makes the most sense, especially in a high-asset divorce when one or both parties refuse to negotiate in good faith. An experienced family law attorney can help you decide whether you have a better chance for a positive outcome through litigation.

Take a businesslike approach to divorce

Taking a spouse to court for revenge is usually never a good idea, even if a soon-to-be ex deserves it, as judges only want to hear a rational law-based argument on why you deserve a greater share of assets or more time with your kids. They aren’t usually swayed based on hearing grievances against a spouse. And, remember that going to trial means you will put the final decision in the hands of a stranger.