Family law attorney Lee Rosen discusses whether or not you will have to go to court for your divorce in North Carolina.
Do I have to go to court Transcript
Hi, I’m Lee Rosen. Today I’d like to answer a question that I get asked probably every day. The question is: do I have to go to court to get my divorce, or is it possible to get this done without ever going to a courtroom?
The answer to this question touches on all of the issues you’re learning about. It comes up in child custody and support, alimony, property division, all of them. What’s the answer? The answer is no. In North Carolina you never, ever have to set foot in a courtroom.
That’s a really important thing to know because so many people spend so much of their energy focusing on what might happen if they go to court. They worry about all the horrible cross examination questions they might face, or what a judge might do with their children or with their property, and that’s not where you want your energy to be because you’re not likely to go to court.
There are much more productive things you can do with that energy. You see, nine out of ten people never set foot in a courtroom. You probably won’t, either. I know you worry that you’ll be one of that one in ten that goes to court, but the odds are so strong that you’re going to be one of the ones that never goes to a courtroom.
Let’s put all that energy to work. Let’s take all that anxiety that you have and use it to do something productive instead of worrying about something that’s not likely to happen. You can be thinking about the ways that you can reach agreement, that you can settle your case. That’s what you ought to do with the energy because that’s what you want to do with your case – is settle it.
You want to agree. You want to avoid going to court. Why? Well, I’m going to give you some ideas about that, a bunch of reasons that going to court ought to be viewed as a last resort. First of all, going to court is ridiculously expensive. The attorney’s fees for going to court are tremendous. The process of going to court is time consuming, it’s difficult, and therefore your attorney’s fees will be very, very high. You don’t want that to happen.
It’s also time consuming not just from an attorney standpoint but from the standpoint of your life. You will spend a huge number of days in court. Some hearings take days, weeks, and occasionally they take months. They definitely take months to prepare for, and the whole time that you’re going through that you will be having that worry hang over you, that stress. That can be just unbearable. These are terrific reasons to settle your case.
Also, if you have children and you end up in court that will add stress to their lives. No matter how much you might try to separate your child from the process, they’re going to know what’s going on. They’re going to feel it. They’re a part of it. If you can figure out a way to settle your case you’re going to save them from a lot of that.
Beyond all of that, if you go to court what happens is that the judge never really knows or understands you. They know what they’ve heard in the courtroom. They know what the evidence has been, but they’ll never really understand what’s important to you and what your priorities are.
They’re going to do the best they can, but a courtroom is a tough environment for gaining an understanding of another person. If you want to be sure that your priorities are recognized and that they’re acted upon, then the only way to do that is to negotiate a settlement.
Last but not least, if you want to do something creative in your case you’ve got to do it outside of the courtroom. You’ve got to settle. Judges are handling lots of cases, one after another, so they deliver fairly standard solutions from case to case. They use the same old solutions on one case that they use on the next.
If you want to do something different, something special, something creative, something maybe with your children and their schedule or something creative with your property that saves you money on taxes, you can’t get it done in a courtroom. You’re always going to get that standard solution. So do everything in your power to settle your case. View going to court as the last thing you’ll do. Do all that you can possibly do to reach settlement.
Most people find that they’re able to sit down with their spouse and talk about an agreement. Now, you may not be able to do that initially. You may need lots of input and advice from your lawyer. You may even need your lawyer to be present or to have a mediator present, but there are lots of things that can be done to reach agreement.
I want you to put all that energy you would’ve put into worrying about going to court into settlement. If you can talk directly, great. If you can’t, then let your lawyer talk on your behalf. That will frequently settle a case. If that doesn’t work, try mediation, try the collaborative approach.
We have all sorts of material at rosen.com about mediation, arbitration, about collaborative divorce. There are lots and lots of ways to reach settlement. Court should only be viewed as a last resort.
That’s a long answer to the question, am I going to have to go to court, but I hope that it helps. I’m Lee Rosen for the Rosen Law Firm.