DIVORCE IS extremely expensive. The “expense” extends well beyond the cost of attorney fees. It is expensive emotionally, robs the parties of time and energy, and usually affects each member of the family.
Approaching a divorce with the intention of resolving it amicably is best for everyone involved. Some lawyers claim that by fighting, the client will receive a better result. It is just not the case. The outcome of a hugely contested divorce versus a divorce resolved by agreement rarely deviates more than 5 percent. The biggest difference is the amount of fees. A medium-size divorce resolved by agreement costs 10 times less than a medium-sized divorce that goes to trial. In addition, an amicable divorce takes substantially less time, creates less stress, and allows the parties to move forward with less bitterness and resentment. This is always good but especially important when children are involved.
Given these facts, the question remains: why doesn’t everyone choose an amicable divorce? Some people are so angry that they don’t make good choices. Other people have attorneys suggesting that litigation will provide them with a much better outcome. The client may have someone advising him/her who elevates the drama, distrust, and chaos rather than reducing it. Still, others want an amicable divorce but their soon-to-be ex-spouse refuses to be cordial.
It’s important to find an attorney who can help you choose the right path. Select someone who will give you good counsel and keep things in perspective instead of heightening the conflict. Some attorneys handle only uncontested divorces. Other attorneys are aggressive, skilled trial attorneys. It is rare to find an attorney who will proceed amicably but has the necessary litigation skills in case it goes to trial. The search is worth it: proceeding amicably is much easier when the other side knows that if required, your attorney will go to court and achieve a fair outcome. A powerful attorney actually assists in an agreeable divorce by knowing the law, knowing what a reasonable outcome would be if they had to go to trial, and being able to negotiate a similar outcome without the expense of litigation.
Divorce doesn’t have to be adversarial; you can make decisions to help avoid unnecessary drama, acrimony, and attorney fees. When interviewing a potential attorney, it’s important to ask questions that help you to determine if the attorney is both a skilled litigator and is willing to help you achieve an amicable resolution.
Michone J. Riewer is an attorney with Strategic Divorce in Lake Bluff, 847-234- 4445, strategicdivorce.com.