During a divorce, you face a lot of difficult decisions. One of the most important decisions you’ll make is whether or not you want to take it to court. Many couples turn to divorce mediation to make important decisions about their divorce settlements.

However, some couples aren’t a good fit for mediation. They may end up going to court after mediation, or instead of mediation. Here’s what happens when going to court is the best route for your divorce.

When Does a Divorce Go to Trial?

Some couples choose to settle their divorces out of court, through mediation or other means.

If a couple decides not to settle out of court, they’ll need to go to trial. This typically happens when they aren’t able to communicate effectively, or if they have a major dispute they can’t agree upon.

Sometimes a couple will attempt mediation but won’t be able to successfully complete it. In this case, they’ll need to go to court instead and have a judge make the decisions.

If the spouses have a high-conflict relationship, or if one person has been found to be an abuser, mediation may not be the best solution. If you are unable to compromise or have had a complete communication breakdown, you may choose to go to court instead of spending time and money on mediation.

Even if there are a few contentious issues in your divorce, you may be able to make some decisions through mediation. If you’re able to reach an agreement this way, you’ll have more control over the outcome and potentially save some time. This is called a partial settlement.

Some couples choose to go directly to court instead of trying mediation because of a lack of trust, a history of deceptive behavior, or abuse. In those situations, the court can provide necessary protections and thorough investigations. 

What Should You Expect if Your Divorce Goes to Court?

If your divorce does go to court, you should prepare for the stress that comes with a divorce trial.

One of the first things you should do is find a lawyer to represent you. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the court will assign one to represent you on certain issues. Another option is to meet with a lawyer who can advise you on how to represent yourself.

You may have to go to multiple hearings, which are used to provide temporary settlements on pressing issues like child custody, alimony, and more. However, hearings are different from the trial.

Decisions made at trial are considered final. Most of the time, they cannot be challenged. This is why many couples avoid trials and instead find ways to come to an agreement.

What Happens if You Choose Divorce Court Over Mediation or Collaborative Divorce?

To begin a divorce trial, one spouse needs to petition for divorce, which begins the process. This is also called a contested divorce.

The process includes the discovery period, which takes several months to collect information such as financial records, communication records, and more. This thorough process will collect all relevant information on both parties so the judge can make informed decisions on finances, child custody, and property division.

If you choose divorce court, you can expect a slower divorce process. Instead of controlling the pace of the proceedings, you will follow a schedule set by the local court. Divorce trials can take over a year to come to a conclusion.

Courts have to deal with hundreds of cases, and it may take some time for them to get to yours. You’ll need to work with their schedule so you can appear in court whenever necessary, which can be hard to arrange when working full-time.

You will need to get a lawyer to represent your interests in court. If you can’t afford a lawyer, the court will assign one. Another option is to consult with a lawyer on how to represent yourself.

A one-time meeting is generally more affordable than paying for hours of work over the course of the trial.

How Does Mediation Work?

Mediation, on the other hand, is an alternative dispute resolution method, which is used as an alternative to litigation. Divorce mediation is designed to help you and your spouse create a divorce settlement that covers all the essential issues.

Mediation is not a legal process, which means that all your conversations are confidential. During a trial, everything is considered a public record, which is a privacy concern for some couples.

This process allows you to make decisions with your spouse. Even if you are dealing with anger from the divorce, an experienced mediator can guide you through conversation and provide an objective voice.

Mediation involves compromises, but it also ensures that your voice is heard and you get a chance to argue your point of view. 

What are the Benefits of Settling Your Divorce Out of Court?

If you do choose to settle your divorce outside of court, there are several potential benefits. The first is financial, mediation is typically much cheaper than paying legal fees that accumulate over the months.

However, sometimes the court cannot be avoided. If you can’t settle certain disputes yourself, a judge can make the final decision for you.

You and your spouse may be able to find common ground on a few issues, like division of property. There are divorce mediation services Santa Ana has to offer that can help you draft a partial agreement, which guarantees that the two of you have control over those issues. 

Come Up with a Final Divorce Agreement with the Help of a Mediator

Settling out of court means that you have the chance to convince your spouse to see your side of things. Help from a mediator can also encourage both of you to see things more objectively and find the most logical solution.

We specialize in helping you keep your divorce out of court. We have attorneys, mental health specialists, and accountants on staff to help with every aspect of your settlement.

Schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your divorce and provide a quote, contact us at Divorce Mediation of California today.