Most options for divorce do not have to go through court

Media depictions may suggest otherwise, but most divorces never end up in court. This article explains why.

Television shows and movies often depict divorce as a contentious and highly fraught process that often ends up with both spouses in court. While there is no denying that divorce is difficult even in the best of circumstances, anybody preparing for divorce should be careful about assuming that their own marital breakup will end up in court. The fact is, as the Financial Post reports, that just one percent of divorces in Canada are ultimately litigated. While going to court is a worthwhile option for some people, in most cases finding a way to reach an out-of-court settlement is in the interests of all parties.

Why people don't go to court

There are a few big reasons why most people avoid litigated divorces. The first is money. Going to court is an expensive process that often costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, it is risky, with the divorce entirely in the hands of the judge. That means that neither party can negotiate the terms of the divorce settlement. Rather, whatever the judge decides is ultimately what must be enforced. Finally, going to court takes time. Court delays can result in the divorce taking twice as long as it would have otherwise taken if it was settled out of court.

Alternatives to court

In recent years, Canadians have also been embracing the ideas of mediated and collaborative divorces. These divorce processes utilize the knowledge of third-party experts, such as mediators, child behaviour specialists, financial analysts, and divorce lawyers, but with an agreement that the process will be conducted outside of court. These approaches allow the divorcing spouses to come to a settlement that is in their best interests while keeping the process itself as civil and amicable as possible. As Metro News reports, mediated divorce is also about 75 percent cheaper than litigation and also less stressful on any children the couple may have.

Why court is sometimes an option

All that being said, there are instances when going to court makes sense. If one spouse has been the victim of domestic violence by the other spouse, then the power of the court can help protect the first spouse from intimidation. Also, the court can order parties to produce documents or other evidence that are necessary to achieving a fair divorce. If one party, for example, is not being upfront about his or her financial situation then the court can force that party to produce all relevant financial documents, which in turn can help ensure that the marital property is divided fairly.

Family law help

For those who are considering divorce, it is important to reach out to an experienced family law lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help clients understand what options they have to pursue when negotiating a settlement, including whether going to court may be a sensible option. Furthermore, a lawyer can ensure that any final settlement is ultimately in the client's best interests both for the short and long terms.