If someone asked me what to expect during the divorce process, I could simply answer, “Expect the unexpected.” Divorce, like most litigation, plays out like a game of Chutes and Ladders. You never know when you’re going to be lifted up or sliding down! You can also expect that things won’t always go your way.
When you file for dissolution (divorce), you’re putting your life, your children’s lives, your personal belongings, your lifelong investments, your business and everything else that you control into the hands of a judge. The only opportunity for this person to get to know you is at the hearings.
In most cases, parents can come to an agreement about time-sharing with their children, but they struggle with the financial issues of divorce. Other times, money means nothing and it’s all about the children. When couples can’t agree, the divorce case becomes more costly and protracted.
A settlement can be reached in many ways. The parties can always agree between themselves about how to handle children and financial issues. This often occurs in the later stages of litigation when they realize that their life savings would be better spent on themselves and their children rather than on lawyers and expert witnesses.
During the litigation, the parties will be required to attend a mediation where a mutually agreed upon third-party lawyer will listen to each side and try to get them to agree to all issues. At this point, the parties and their respective attorneys will work toward a mediated settlement agreement that becomes the basis for the final judgment.
When the parties cannot agree, the mediator cannot bring them together, and the attorneys representing the parties cannot convince them to come to an agreement, the case will proceed to trial. The judge will listen to evidence presented by each side, most often without ever meeting the children, and decide where they live and with whom as well as their allowed activities, their school and more. The judge also makes decisions on alimony and child support payments and the division of marital assets. This could include a forced sale of real property or even a business interest if the judge feels the evidence and equity warrants it.
A judge once told me that he understands my client wants “A” and the other side wants “B” then assured us he was going to award “C,” which was something “neither one of us thought of or would want.” This was the impetus for the parties to seriously reconsider their positions and resulted in a settlement.
In an action for dissolution, nothing is certain. These cases twist and turn based on the case’s circumstances and the personalities of the parties and the attorneys representing them. If you find yourself thinking about divorce, call the Law Offices of Michael B. Brehne, PA and schedule a consultation for our best assessment on how to proceed in your particular case.