It is an unfortunate fact of modern life that separation and divorce often bring out the worst in people. Relationships that once were loving and caring spiral into an endless cycle of negativity in which nobody wins. While 95% of divorce cases ultimately settle out of court, far too many couples will see the inside of a courtroom, even if they don’t end up completing the process there. The reality is that in most cases, court is the absolute worst place to come to an agreement on how you will split assets, belongings and custody of children. Below are a few reasons why:
It’s Expensive. REALLY Expensive.
Lawyers do not come cheap. Preparation for and representation in court can rack up hundreds of hours of lawyers’ time and bills in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, a good solicitor in Victoria can cost around $450-$550 per hour. Fortunately, there are some outstanding Melbourne family lawyers who specialise in collaborative divorces that can drastically reduce the time and cost associated with what is already a painful process.
One thing that many people that have been through divorce note is that there can at times appear to be little rhyme or reason to how things pan out. The outcome of your divorce proceedings will have a profound and lasting impact on the rest of your life and on your children, if you have any. When you step into the courtroom, you need to remember that you are putting your life in other people’s hands. Depending on what kind of mood the judge is in, how the respective parties’ lawyers perform and a host of other factors outside of your control, the results can vary wildly.
It is no secret that divorce is emotionally and psychologically stressful. However, few experiences can compare to finalising a divorce in court for sheer pressure. Imagine facing up to a cranky judge who wants you out of his or her courtroom, a bulldog opposing barrister who is being paid to inflict the maximum amount of pain possible, and the knowledge that you must come to a settlement on the day. Under these conditions, people will frequently feel pressured to agree to conditions that they would otherwise have thought better of with the benefit of more time and a less adversarial environment. Lumped with unworkable orders, many couples find themselves back in court within two years having to renegotiate terms.
It adds to conflict
Divorce is by its very nature a high conflict situation for all involved. Our courts are structured on an adversarial system that pits one side against the other in what is essentially a pitched battle. When tensions are already running high, the additional conflict can lead people to make decisions and behave in a manner that could have been avoided had they chosen a less confrontational method of resolving their differences.
In addition to the financial and emotional toll, the court process can take an enormous amount of time to complete. If you see it through until the end, you will have likely experienced two preliminary hearings, a court-run mediation session and a final trial. The entire process can easily drag out for two years or more and still end with a solution that makes nobody happy.
With so much at stake and so many potential downsides, it is without doubt worth thinking very carefully about alternative approaches to your divorce before committing yourself to a settlement through the court system.