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When to negotiate and when to go to trial in a Texas divorce

Many people who are going through a divorce harbor fantasies of standing up in a courtroom, telling the world why their spouse is a bad person. It's only natural to feel that way sometimes. However, letting a divorce go to trial is unlikely to result in emotional satisfaction. It's also very likely to be extremely expensive.

The high cost of trial is one reason most divorces in Texas are settled through negotiation, with a settlement agreement approved by a court. Of course, negotiating issues like property division and child custody can be very difficult and time consuming. Some who are going through many rounds of seemingly fruitless negotiation may wonder if they should just let the court decide these issues for them.

Indeed, there may be times when litigation makes sense. As a general rule, litigation may be the best option for divorces in which the parties can't agree on the most basic terms of the divorce. In other words, even if the parties are having a hard time coming up with the exact division of parenting time in a child custody agreement, they can agree at least that they should divide joint custody. If they can't agree on that much, they may be better off cutting their losses and letting the court decide the matter based upon its interpretation of the best interests of the child.

This last point is important. Going to trial means letting a judge decide matters - not just financial matters, but intensely personal ones such as which parent is better suited to child-raising. As difficult as negotiation may be, it can feel worse to let an outsider make decisions about one's child.

Texas attorneys who have experience with many kinds of divorces and child custody disputes can counsel their clients on when to hold firm and when to be more flexible in negotiation. They can also help their clients understand when to stick to the negotiating table and when to go to trial.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Is It Best To Litigate Or Settle?" Jeff Landers, May 22, 2014

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