By the time that some Washington couples decide to divorce, they may have a very contentious relationship. It might seem that they cannot speak to each other without arguing and it might seem that the only path to divorce is through a lengthy and contested trial. Couples divorcing more amicably often find it easier to reach a settlement between themselves, but even spouses in a higher-conflict relationship might find advantages to negotiating an agreement before going to trial. There are various concerns that people may keep in mind when determining their strategy to move forward with a divorce.
In the first place, many family court judges will strongly encourage the parties to a divorce to reach a settlement. This does not mean that the spouses would be left to work it out, with all of the emotional difficulties that might ensue. Both spouses’ family law attorneys may be part of the negotiation process, presenting proposals to address issues like child custody, property division and spousal support. For spouses who want to finalize the divorce quickly, a negotiated settlement may be an appealing option. People might be able to reach a settlement agreement within months, while a trial in family court may take a year or more.
Of course, a longer, more drawn-out process is also likely to be more expensive. Spouses might face court costs, elevated legal expenses and other costs, such as fees for expert witnesses and other professionals involved in the case. When the major disputes are financial, it may save money for both parties to reach a settlement instead.
A divorce trial might be necessary at times, particularly if one spouse is intransigent or abusive. In either situation, a family law attorney may help a divorcing spouse to develop a strategy and work to achieve a fair outcome on key matters.