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Do Divorces Go To Trial?

Do Divorces Go To Trial

Divorce is mostly seen as a tedious and painful process which generates a lot of mixed feelings, pain and even resentment among the involved parties. Globally, divorce is as a result of various factors which I will briefly go through.

Why do people divorce?

The major causes of divorce include:

  • Infidelity

Experts believe that extra marital affairs are one of the major causes of divorce not only in the United States, but also globally. The reasons why people choose to cheat on their spouses vary.

  • Financial issues

Money is also at the forefront as a major cause of divorce. Overspending, credit card debts, lack of investments or couples who don’t seem to agree on how their joint account should be managed. All these issues tend to drive couples to the wall and end up separating.

  • Substance abuse

In most cases, a spouse who does any substance abuse tends to hide such a behavior from their significant other. They will do it in secret, either away from the house or wait when their mate is away.

However, one cannot hide forever and will be discovered in due time. This can lead to separation as the other spouse feels betrayed.

  • Lack of intimacy

Marriage is supposed to unite two individuals. This union is also meant to allow the two people to share themselves with their spouse, thus create a connection and bond.

Sharing means having the freedom for physical as well as emotional intimacy. In some marriages, a lack of any form of intimacy creates frustration and one spouse may end up looking elsewhere for that intimacy.

Experts have listed domestic violence as a silent catastrophe here in the United States. Globally, there is a stigma that is associated with domestic violence. As such, most of the victims fail to speak up and suffer in silence.

For those who are courageous, they usually report and when worse come to worst, they walk away from such marriages. Others not only walk away, they also obtain restraining orders against their spouses.

There are other causes of divorce such as childlessness, lack of communication or interference from relatives and in-laws.

As from the above causes, we can see that divorce is centered on negative feelings such as pain, heartache or resentment. Few cases of divorce stem from amicable choices from spouses. Apart from the emotional turmoil caused by divorce, the entire process is also quite costly which leaves people in a financial crisis.

The financial repercussion tends to put off the majority of people seeking to file for a divorce. As such, most of the involved parties usually agree to settle their case outside the courtroom, but with the help of a lawyer. This is usually the best option.

Choosing to go to trial means you have left the decision-making process on another authority and therefore you have to abide by their final decision.

In the United States, statistics reveal that trials are not really favorable among the citizens, with only 1% – 2% of divorce cases reaching the trial stage.

In the state of Utah, divorce attorneys state that only 2% – 3% of their cases go to trial. In a span of two years, this law firm only handled 15 divorce trials.

Majority of the people opt for divorce mediation. This involves hiring a third party (mediator), besides the attorneys, who serves as a facilitator to help the two parties agree on various settlements.

The mediator does not make the final decisions, hence the couple retains authority and control over the process. The good thing with a divorce mediation process is that it is a confidential endeavour, thus your divorce is not publicised.

Mediation is also pocket friendly as opposed to trials or hearings. This process is beneficial to the couple as it enhances communication skills between the two. The mediator is able to assist the couple to iron out any differences.

Mediation is also considered a smooth and friendly process in comparison to court hearings where most judges are seen to be harsh.

This option is also a favorite to many people since it allows both people to make decisions based on their own values, principles and ideologies as opposed to court trials where decisions are imposed on the couple.

However, some people may fail to reach to any amicable agreements even with mediation, thus prompting them to advance to a court trial. Let us look at what a divorce trial is all about next.

What is a divorce trial?

A trial simply means that the involved parties decide to come together and present their disputes before a competent authority such as a judge or commissioner. This is due to the parties failing to agree on relevant issues pertaining to their separation and impending divorce.

A trial consists of attorneys who represent the two disputing parties. The attorneys will present the disputes before a hearing.

Each party has their own witnesses who will be required to take a stand and give their own accounts on the disputes.

The presiding authority will collect evidence in relation to the dispute at hand. For instance, divorce cases filed due to domestic violence require the physical evidence such as bruises, scars and medical reports which support the claims made by the petitioner.

Besides the witnesses, the two parties will be asked a few questions by the prosecutor or judge. A trial can only be relevant if all parties involved are given the chance to air their views.

The divorce trial period varies from one state to another. In Utah, for example, the trials can take 2 – 5 days up to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the disputed issues.

After evidence is collected, the two attorneys will present their closing remarks and make arguments for particular outcomes each party hopes will occur.

Divorce trials can take several weeks or even months before the judge makes the final decision. A lot of reviewing is done. It is also common for the involved parties to be summoned once in a while as they await the final decision.

In Utah, the majority of cases last only for a standard period of 1 day or 2 days at most. This is because the involved parties end up discussing major issues such as child custody and financial matters with their attorneys and end up reaching a consensus. Also, they come to realize that the trial process can be time-consuming and emotionally draining, something which people will avoid at all costs.

As I have mentioned, there are certain circumstances which force couples to push forward with a divorce trial. The section below will explain the various instances which necessitate a divorce trial.

When to go for a divorce trial

When one spouse has unrealistic demands

Divorce usually means that all the things a couple once shared together have to be divided between the two. Division of properties, assets, liabilities or debts is usually a bone of contention for most couples.

If one of the spouses was more financially stable than the other, some of them end up disagreeing with how the division is done, especially if they happen to have made more contributions towards the asset acquisition.

When the other spouse demands to be given an asset that they made little contributions to, this can be seen as being unrealistic, thus causing disagreements.This is common in cases where the couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement beforehand.

When parties disagree on finances

Very few people agree on how to manage the household finances and those who do agree, usually have taken the time to sit together as a couple and look for workable solutions.

This is usually after numerous trials and errors, disagreements and fightings. As we saw earlier, money is one of the leading causes of divorce. Therefore, to find couples who choose to go to trial due to disagreements on finances is not a big surprise.

Financial disputes usually involve the following:

  • When your spouse is constantly accusing you of mishandling the money like overusing the credit cards. You then end up making the accusations personal and feel as if your spouse was attacking you as an individual.

Failing to resolve the matter with your spouse leads to inbuilt resentment which in due time can escalate to a divorce.

  • When couples fail to have clearly defined roles for handling household finances.

Marriage entails teamwork. It is necessary for couple to sit down and agree on specific roles each of them needs to play for managing finances. This will create a sense of togetherness and unity which will come in handy during any future disagreements.

However, this is never the case for most couples. Disagreements tend to arise since each person does what they feel is right. If one spouse has a better paying source of income than the other, they tend to dictate how the money needs to be managed. The other spouse will feel bullied and may quit on the relationship.

Financial disputes during a divorce may mean that the couple cannot agree on pertinent issues such as the amount needed for monthly household upkeep, the percentage of pension plan to be given to the other spouse, etc. Such disputes may thus require the couple to go to trial.

When couples disagree on child support

Most of the child support disputes tend to stem from couples who question each other’s parenting style. One spouse cannot imagine leaving the children under the care of the other spouse since they seem incompetent.

Some of the reasons for these disputes include; a parent who works odd shifts thus may lack ample time to take care of the child, a spouse who is on substance abuse may be considered incompetent, a suspected paedophile, a parent who physically abuses the child, absentee parent, a low-income earner, or a parent without any source of income, etc. All the above reasons are viable enough to cause a divorce to go to trial.

The parties who make such petitions are required to present necessary documents and financial statements to verify their accusations. Children who are of age can also be required to take up the witness stand to give their own account.

Other issues on child support may be based on visitation rights. There are instances where one parent may file for a restraining order which prevents the other one from seeing the children. Such cases create disputes and even animosity.

It is therefore advisable to involve a judge who will then determine whether the restraining order is justifiable or not.

In less complexes disputes, the couple may agree on child custody but involve the court to determine which parent has the upper hand on issues such as where to educate the child, which co-curricular activities to participate in, religion or where to go for medical treatment.

Alimony disputes

Spousal support or alimony is also a major reason why most divorces go to trial. Most couple go to trial due to a general lack of understanding.

Most people may lack the knowledge of how spousal support happens after a divorce. In as much as the couple may involve lawyers who ought to explain such matters, some spouses may still feel that their rights are being violated.

They may feel that certain support requirements are unnecessary. This is especially if both spouses have well paying jobs. The accused spouse may not see the need to contribute any further to someone they have separated from.

Other couple may accept the alimony, but end up disputing on the spousal support duration, thus causing them to involve a judge.

It is therefore imperative for all citizens to become aware of various legislations which touch on family matters. The attorneys should also educate their clients on such issues. This may reduce the number of divorce cases going to trial.

As you can see, divorces can go to trial due to various reasons, mostly disagreements arising from pertinent family matters. Nevertheless, not all divorce cases end up in a trial because the involved parties reach a settlement through the aid of attorneys or a divorce mediator.

Divorce Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need help with your divorce, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506