The Divorce Trial Q&A: how to decide if to go to trial or let the judge decide the case

By New York Divorce Attorney
In Guide to Marriage, Divorce and Families, the American Bar Association advises: “the decision whether to go to trial or to have a judge decide contested issues often involves a cost-benefit analysis.”
That is the test to figure out if you should go to trial. Will the benefit wildly outweigh the cost? If the cost and the benefit are about equal, with the benefit just slightly edging the cost, trial doesn’t make sense. Because there is also opportunity cost, emotional cost, not just money that goes into a trial. The trick to divorce is to negotiate as much as you can. If you end up in trial, then somebody failed somewhere. Either the clients or the lawyers or both. There is really no reason why any divorce should have to reach the trial stage. Reasonable people should be able to come to an intelligent compromise and agreement.
But if the emotions are too raw, then figure out the cost/benefit. Do that analysis and only if the benefits wildly outweigh the cost, would I recommend going to trial.
Originally published March 6, 2009