Why Most Cases Settle (and how to stop letting fear and anger get in the way of a good divorce process)
Most people never expect to find themselves sitting across the table from a family lawyer going over their divorce or custody case. It’s shocking how you can go from the intimacy of creating a life with someone only to be thrust into an impersonal process as legal opponents. This painful experience can summon a host of upsetting emotions that can make rational decision-making difficult. Although some people expect they will get the chance to air their grievances with their ex in a courtroom, most cases will never make it through the door. Believe it or not, that is usually a good thing. Here is why most cases settle and how to stop letting fear and anger get in the way of a good divorce process.
There are Limited Solutions in Court
Wisconsin law is a community property state, meaning that, with a few exceptions, property and assets acquired during marriage belong equally to both partners. In some situations, the court may end up giving more of some assets to one spouse in an effort to put them in a relatively equal position. For instance, in shorter marriages, if one spouse brought significant assets to a marriage and the other brought significant debt, it’s less likely that all assets and debts will be divided equally. Further, when there are income differences, spousal maintenance may be awarded for a certain amount of time when one person stayed home to raise the couple’s children while the other progressed in his or her career. Likewise, the court is going to have specific factors to consider when it comes to deciding how parents should share legal custody and physical placement of their minor children. Outside of unusual circumstances, there are a finite number of ways that the court is likely to decide these and other vital issues.
Settlement Allows the Parties More Flexibility
When the parties work out the details themselves, they have the freedom to create settlement terms that fit their unique circumstances. Settlement offers more creativity than allowed under court authority. For example, if the divorcing couple owns pets, a Wisconsin court would not have the authority to set up a visitation schedule and to apportion responsibility for veterinary care. However, in a settlement, the two could agree to these kinds of terms. When you work out an agreement through a settlement, you can take control of your own situation and craft it to fit your life rather than leaving decisions up to the court.
Settlement Saves Time, Money, and Frustration
In addition to its other benefits, settlement is private and can help both sides save the time and expense of going to court in a public forum. Once you have completed your case, you can stop spending money and energy fighting with your ex. Remember, the longer you stay in conflict with your ex, the more potential there is for increased and ongoing hostility. You may have every reason in the world to be angry at your ex, but dragging out your divorce will not bring you justice or peace. Instead, staying in this posture unnecessarily will only create more pain for you to work through when it's finally over. You may be afraid to settle because you believe your ex will take advantage of you. If this is the case, having the advice of an experienced family law attorney is the best protection in this situation. Your attorney can help you examine your case and evaluate your options throughout the process.
Attorney and mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has experience helping clients evaluate their circumstances so they can make informed choices regarding divorce. Call us today at 262-788-5335 to set up a consultation to have a “first look” at your options.