To litigate, or not to litigate, that is the question

“Why did we need a 36-day trial where the basic facts are pretty straightforward?” the judge asked at the outset of his closing statement. 
“Why did we need 20 witnesses, including teachers, a principal and vice-principal, CAS workers, a family doctor, and a custody assessor?”
Why did parents of modest means choose to impoverish themselves – and their daughter’s future -- for a needlessly destructive three-year court battle?”

Statements like these are far too common in divorce trials. This post explores why that is and how you can avoid it.

What does it mean to litigate? 

When it comes to divorce, litigating means arming yourself with a lawyer and duking it out with your spouse in court. And many divorcees are more than inclined to do just that. To fight to the bitter end; to get the last laugh on their spouse. They see litigation as a chance to speak their minds in court, to tell the judge about the betrayal, the adultery, and the pain they’ve had to suffer. However, judges don’t consider feelings or emotions. Judges are bound to stick to the facts and impose the law. And most of the time, the facts are simple enough to avoid litigation entirely. 

 “And so, an unnecessary trial was required to determine straightforward issues.  The result, as hereafter set forth, was predictable.”
Average hourly lawyer cost

Litigation should be the absolute last resort in divorce. Not only because it is costly (the average litigated divorce can easily cost $30,000), but also because divorce trials can be intensely stressful experiences – especially when children are involved. But with emotions clouding their judgement and a daunting legal process ahead of them, many divorcees choose to litigate their divorce without considering much simpler and less expensive solutions

“The main characters in these tragedies end up pretty much the same: Miserable. Financially ruined. And worst of all, hurting the children they claimed they were protecting.”

What is an uncontested divorce? 

An uncontested divorce is the alternative to litigation. This is the way most people get divorced. It is much less expensive than litigation and offers spouses the opportunity to end their marriage quietly and with dignity. In uncontested divorces, spouses must agree on all issues raised by the divorce. This means important decisions like how assets are split and how custody is managed must be made together and agreed upon in a separation agreement.

A traditional uncontested divorce using a lawyer or mediator usually costs between $2,000 and $5,000. Most people are unnecessarily afraid of the process and end up spending money they could have otherwise saved

An uncontested divorce can be a simple and straightforward process that doesn't need to involve lawyers. Anyone is entitled to file all the paperwork themselves without ever setting foot in a courtroom.

Why everyone should choose an uncontested divorce

Reason #1: In the end, over 90% of divorces are settled as uncontested divorces. 

Unfortunately, many cases begin with the threat of litigation and a settlement is only agreed to after long and costly negotiations involving lawyers and mediators. In these situations, divorcees often come to realize that going to trial will almost certainly worsen an already expensive and emotionally draining experience. They swallow their pride and come to the conclusion that the uncontested option is the most equitable option for both parties. 

Reason #2: When divorce lawyers get divorced, they choose an uncontested divorce.

Despite their expertise and familiarity with the system, the vast majority of divorce lawyers do everything in their power to avoid litigation. As two expert lawyers put it, divorce lawyers “regard litigation as a counter-productive force that destroys their chances of achieving a healthy negotiation climate” with their spouse. Divorce lawyers see first-hand the damage that litigation does; they see their clients become frustrated, disillusioned, and poorer. They realize that the emotional damage done by divorce trials can last for decades and rip apart families.

Reason #3: You aren't alone.

% of Self-represented

Many of our clients at the beginning of the divorce process don’t realize that they can get a divorce without ever having to involve a lawyer. However, according to the Law Society of Upper Canada, 80% of litigants in divorce trials are self-represented. While self-representing can be a daunting task, the benefits to both spouses can be immense. Our next post will discuss self-representation and the fears many of our clients have when thinking about this option. 

Are you eligible?

Absolutely! Anyone can represent themselves. Our goal is to make the process as simple as possible so you can focus on what is important to you.

Who does it? 

The Old School

Traditional professional negotiation services such as mediation and arbitration can help spouses come to an agreement on important divorce decisions. However, they don’t help complete the confusing paperwork and they don’t bring clients from the start to finish of their uncontested divorce. 

The New School

Thistoo brings together experts in family law and information technology to streamline and simplify the process of uncontested divorce—and dramatically reduce its cost. Thistoo is the affordable, data-driven divorce assistant—a reliable source for clear, accurate information and a straightforward four-step process that helps people get past divorce and on with their lives

If you’re considering divorce, see how Thistoo can help you. 

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