3 Things Every Spouse Should Know Before Demanding A Divorce Trial
Headlines and Hollywood have, over the years, given many people a false notion of what a divorce trial is really like. Before we proceed with going to trial with any client, we like to make sure they understand the following things.
1) If You’re After Public Vindication, Look Elsewhere
Many spouses, especially those who are the victims of a cheating and/or abusive ex, want to be publicly vindicated in court.
They imagine that a divorce trial will somehow end with the judge ceremoniously declaring them to be right (and a good person too) and their ex-spouse to be wrong (and a real jerk, by the way). They also imagine the judge awarding them everything they think they deserve and punishing their ex for their misdeeds.
Just to be clear, the scenario described above is 100% pure fantasy. Remember, California is a no-fault divorce state. The job of a judge in a divorce trial is not to determine who was right and who was a no-good, cheating, lying asshole. The judge’s job is to determine a fair division of assets and how to settle issues around alimony, child support, and custody.
A spouse who wants a divorce trial because they’re looking for public vindication should look elsewhere.
2) Judges Are Never 100% Impartial
Judges take the requirements of their position very seriously and strive to be impartial, but they are human beings like the rest of us. Like all of us, their decisions are informed by their life experiences and unconscious biases.
What this means is that a client may be putting the outcome of their divorce in the hands of someone who may have an unconscious bias against them from the very beginning.
A spouse who is trying to gain sole custody of their children during their divorce could end up having to share custody or, in rare circumstances, could lose custody of their children because of the bias of a judge. And once a judge’s verdict is given, that’s it. There is no “undo” button once the final divorce order has been handed down.
3) Going To Trial Takes Longer And Costs More
Many spouses feel that a divorce trial is the best option because they don’t want to deal with their ex during the divorce process. The fact is, going to trial is almost always a more expensive and time-consuming option than negotiating a divorce privately.
As for not wanting to deal with an ex, that’s exactly what an attorney is for. A good lawyer will chart a course through the divorce process with their clients and help them avoid as many bumps in the road as possible. If a divorce trial is the only way to get through the process, so be it, but an experienced attorney will exhaust all other options first before going down that road.
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