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Do You Have To Go To Court For A Divorce? Beware Of The Stranger In Black Robes

May 24, 2021
a judge gavel being held by a judge

Most of us believe that the only way to get a fair result in divorce is to hire a lawyer and to go to court. But do you have to go to court for a divorce? Is there another easier, less expensive way to get a divorce?

I’ve been a divorce attorney and mediator for over twenty five years and I can guarantee that most of the time, you will reach a better, more long-lasting settlement in divorce and save your family thousands of dollars by keeping your family far from the courthouse.

Do You Have To Go To Court For A Divorce?

No, you don’t have to go to court for a divorce in the US.

There’s a common misperception that the only way forward is through court. And sometimes, court is the only way, but most of the time it’s not. 

The thing is, lawyers are not magicians who wave the magic wand on your behalf.  They are trained to advocate for your best interest, without regard to any long-term collateral damage that going to court may unintentionally thrust upon your family.  Every disagreement is food for fodder and fees.  Long term outcomes for you and your family are best reached when there’s a settlement in divorce, not when there’s war.  

Alternatives To Court

That’s why mediation is such a great avenue for most people. The reality is that so long as you have transparent and complete disclosure of your family’s financial picture, with the help of an experienced mediator, who serves as a neutral third party you can get divorced and spare your family a lot of time, drama and expense. Better yet, with the help of a mediator, you can reach an agreement that truly serves your family’s needs. The stranger in black robes is unlikely to pay attention to create a highly nuanced agreement incorporating such events such as “Taco-Tuesday” or “Pizza Friday.” With the help of a mediator bringing you to settlement in divorce, your agreement is much more likely to stand the test of time.   

Why You Should Avoid Going To Court For Your Divorce

When I worked for a Judge in New York City, he often said, “You don’t want this stranger in black robes deciding your life.”  He was right.  Here’s why:

1.There are limits to what the Judge hears:  Issues that may feel or even be important to you may be legally irrelevant, inadmissible or otherwise inappropriate for the courtroom.

2.Lot’s of details may be lost:  Judges are extremely overworked and time-pressed.  It’s highly likely that they may miss details of what matters to you and your family while they’re focusing on bigger picture issues.

3.Judges are Just People: Even if you are completely in the “right” on a particular issue, a judge may disagree with your perspective, may be in a bad mood that day or have a particular point of view about how things should be.  Remember, there’s no one objectively “right” outcome.

4. Court wastes time and money:  The average divorce costs $15,000-$20,000 per person.  Mediation is going to cost you a fraction of that expense. Once the terms of resolution are arrived at with a skilled mediator, you can use a DIY platform to file the required documents. 

While there is no silver bullet to make divorce perfect, it doesn’t have to be a mess.  You can keep your future and your family’s future in your own hands.  And Taco Tuesday in your dining room.

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