Divorces are not always the bitter, contentious battles you may see in movies or on TV. More couples are trending toward amicable methods of ending their marriages and disentangling their property. When children are involved, this often allows parents to maintain some civility and open communication that is critical to co-parenting, and those may be lost in the high emotion of a trial.
Nevertheless, mediation and arbitration are not always ideal for every situation. If you are preparing to divorce, you would be wise to carefully consider if your best opportunities lie in a peaceful negotiation or if litigation is the better way to protect your rights.
When is a trial appropriate?
Mediation and arbitration have many benefits. They involve the guidance or oversight of a neutral third party and often other professionals who can help you through difficult issues. However, perhaps these benefits do not outweigh the benefits of a trial. Some reasons why you may want to litigate your divorce instead of trying alternative dispute resolution methods include the following and others:
- You want to expose the hypocrisy of your spouse by making the details of your marriage public, for example, if your spouse was unfaithful or otherwise misbehaved and has a public reputation to protect.
- You will not have to accept your spouse’s version of the story during a trial. Whereas in mediation, you may have to overlook the hurt you feel in order to resolve the issues.
- You are not willing to make the divorce process easier for your spouse, even if it means placing your own time and money on the line.
- You may not have reached the point – or feel you may never reach the point – where you will wish your partner well.
- Your marriage included emotional, financial or physical abuse that left you unable to speak up for your rights and preferences, which is an important part of mediation. Your safety may also be an issue during private negotiations.
While the above list includes several reasonable motives for skipping mediation for a divorce trial, you may simply not want to negotiate with your spouse. Placing the outcome of your divorce in the hands of the court may give you the kind of closure you are seeking. Whether you use ADR or the courts, it is essential to understand your rights under Colorado law. An attorney can explain those rights and work to assist you in standing up for what you deserve in your divorce.