Everyone has heard the horror stories of how traditional divorce is lengthy, overcomplicated and, most of all, expensive. While that doesn’t always have to be the case, the truth is that many times it does turn out that way. Relationships, by nature, are complex. And when difficulties challenge the solidity of a relationship to the point of divorce, things become even more complex. Each spouse then hires a divorce attorney who is tasked with untangling the many strings of the relationship. Since each attorney is trying to do what is best for the client and not necessarily what is fair for both, the result is a legal battle.
Traditional divorce, also known as divorce litigation, has become the most common form of divorce and the first one that people resort to. But litigation is often messy because the end goal for each spouse’s attorney is not to solve problems, instead it’s to win arguments. This makes it difficult to find points of compromise and leaves the final decision in a judge’s hands. Turning to the court results in divorce cases that are time-consuming, costly and emotionally draining for both parties involved.
What Exactly Makes Traditional Divorce So Complicated?
At the beginning of litigation, both lawyers from each side are tasked with collecting information from the other side in an adversarial process, a process known as discovery. Discovery provides the evidence needed to proceed with divorce litigation. Unfortunately, this information gathering stage is inefficient. There are rules that set forth time frames for the production of documents. People often wait till the last minute, or ask for extensions of time for production. The respective attorneys must then prepare the documents for production to the other side. Documents are missing. The attorneys must go back-and-forth with each other to try to resolve discovery issues. When they cannot, the court must get involved. Billing and costs rise as time goes by. This results in a very lengthy process before anything substantive can even begin.
Property & Asset/Liability Disputes
During a divorce case in Florida, property shared by the spouses falls into two categories: marital property and non-marital property. Marital property is that which was acquired by the spouses during the marriage, whether it was done together or separately. This includes assets such as retirement funds, pensions, stocks, insurance plans, and more. Non-marital, or separate, property is that which was owned by a spouse before a marriage, acquired during marriage as a gift, acquired by inheritance, or defined in a prenuptial agreement as separate.
In Florida, the law requires an equitable division of marital property between the spouses. Equitable does not always mean equal. Before dividing property the court must first determine what is marital property and what isn’t. This isn’t always as simple as it sounds and Florida judges ultimately have discretion to determine what they believe is marital and what is not. Because of this, contention often arises between the spouses when determining which assets and liabilities should be divided and whether the division is fair to each party.
Parenting and Timesharing Disagreements
Spouses who have children together must agree on timesharing schedules and custody parental decision making when undergoing a divorce. However, oftentimes both parents want more timesharing with their children than the other spouse agrees to. This inability to agree on parenting time and parental responsibilities leads to the spouses battling each other and a judge having to make the final decision. The longer the parents are unwilling to compromise, the more they often are thinking of the best interest of their child(ren) and the more complicated the proceedings become.
When it comes to litigation, the more the parties fight with each other, the more complicated and time-consuming the case gets. This is because family law attorneys from each side will continue to battle each other and gather additional information in an attempt to gain the upper hand over the opposing party. Other factors then begin to come into play, such as the court having a busy docket. If the court has many pending cases, it can break up a divorce case and have it take place over several days, several weeks, and even several months. In Florida, it’s not uncommon for trials to take months to complete. The court can also choose to then take additional time to form their decisions.
A Straightforward Divorce Alternative
Litigation can quickly turn spouses against each other when there is a constant attempt to gain more than the other in an adversarial process. This can leave spouses with a feeling of unfairness and dissatisfaction even after the divorce is finalized. The result is an overcomplicated divorce process, and even worse, possible additional litigation down the road. At The Divorce Expert, we have created the Proactive Divorce™ in order to simplify the divorce process. The Proactive Divorce™ focuses on preventing further damage to relationships and resolving a divorce in a way that saves spouses money, time and stress.