Do I have to go to court?
What if my spouse and I are constantly fighting and cannot agree on anything? Isn’t court the only way to resolve our issues? Lee Rosen, retired founder of the Rosen Law Firm, discusses your options.
Do I have to go to court?
Hi. I’m Lee Rosen. Do I have to go to court? We get that question every day. Most people who go through the process ask us about it. It’s unusual for us to have a client that isn’t worried about going to court. And the reality is that most people assume that they’re going to have to go through some sort of court process to end their marriage.
The fact of the matter is that for most people, more than 90%, the court process is not something they’ve got to do. They’re able to reach agreement on the issues of child custody and child support, and on alimony and property division. Most people do not need to go ever into a courtroom for any reason. They can do all of this by agreement. And there are a bunch of really good reasons to avoid going to court.
So, good reasons to reach agreement and stay out of the courtroom? Well, there are quite a few. Let’s run through them. First of all, going to court is expensive. It drives up your costs. I mean, there’s nothing about this process that’s inexpensive in the first place, but, boy, when you go to court, it makes it substantially more expensive than it would otherwise have been.
Second thing to think about is time. The court process is a much more involved process, and you take something that could have been resolved in months and turn it into something that may go on for a year, sometimes multiple years.
Another reason-uncertainty. The court process is very unpredictable. You’ve got a judge who’s going to do what the judge thinks is right, not necessarily what you think is right for your family. The only way to be sure that things come out the way you want them to come out is by working together to reach agreement.
And then finally, everything you do in court is public. It’s out there in the open. It’s in an open courtroom, and all the documents are public. If you want to have some semblance of privacy, the only way to do that is by reaching agreement.
I think a lot of people think that going to court is somehow going to bring them satisfaction and make them feel better, there will be something that they can call justice. For most folks, it just doesn’t feel that way. Going to court ends up being a very frustrating, expensive, painful process.
And so do you have to go to court? Not most people, no. Should you go to court? Probably not. I would encourage you to do everything in your power to reach agreement and get this thing done by working together and collaborating and figuring out terms that you can use to get things settled.