When parties are contemplating a divorce and ask me what the process will be like, I always tell clients that there are two distinct paths that a case can take. The first path is litigation. In this situation, one side files the complaint and then the parties engage in discovery wherein the attorneys exchange information regarding the parties' assets and liabilities. Once this process is complete, the parties and their attorneys attend a pre-trial conference. If the matter can not be settled there, the Court schedules a trial and each side presents testimony and evidence in order to prove how the assets should be divided and what amount, if any, of alimony is appropriate.
The second, and often more preferable, path is that the parties meet and craft a Marriage Settlement Agreement. In a Marriage Settlement Agreement, the parties are able to address any relevant issue including: the division of their marital property and debt, past and future tax implications, and alimony. In essence, the parties, with the help of an attorney, can draft a Marriage Settlement Agreement to meet the exact needs they have. Additionally, taking this path rather than pursuing litigation is significantly less expensive, less stressful and less time consuming. If, for example, both parties are prepared to get a divorce and craft a Marriage Settlement Agreement, they could obtain a divorce in a mere 90 days.
When contemplating how to proceed in a divorce, it is almost always advantageous for the parties to bite the bullet and work together to distribute their assets. It saves time, money and sanity in the long run. If you are contemplating a divorce, please contact an experienced family law attorney at our office to review your case and advise you of the best path for you.