Getting a Divorce or Separation in DC: Should I File in DC Court or Settle Out of Court?
I am asked often by potential clients whether they should file in the court immediately rather than try to settle separation and divorce issues out of court. In other words:
TO FILE OR NOT TO FILE IN DC: THAT IS THE QUESTION!
It is always best if you can reach a settlement related to the issues arising out of your marriage. Filing a court case before you have attempted to settle the issues out of court is more expensive, time-consuming, and a more emotionally difficult path to reaching a resolution.
Filing For Divorce or Separation in DC When Kids Are Involved
If you have children that you will be co-parenting with your spouse after your separation or divorce is completed, it is much better to attempt to reach a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement (Marital Settlement Agreement) that includes a Parenting Plan and Custody Schedule.
Once your attorneys are no longer helping you each step of the way, you still need to try to work with your spouse in a calm way to co-parent your children.
Try to reach an amicable resolution is preferable since you will be transitioning your children between homes, seeing each other at events such as sports games, school plays and concerts, graduations, and the like. It is best for you and your children to avoid constant conflict between you and your spouse.
Even if you don’t have children, it is ideal to move on with the least amount of stress as possible, which can be done through a settlement…
Settling A DC Separation or Divorce Out Of Court
Sometimes court is unavoidable, but there are many ways to attempt to resolve the issues between you first without the court’s help.
It is always best to have the advice of a DC Divorce lawyer as you navigate this process. It can be overwhelming, and it is best to have advice so are aware of your rights and do not waive rights simply because you do not know what you are entitled to. The cost of this legal advice is invaluable.
Once you have professional advice from a DC divorce attorney, you and your spouse can work together to have a Settlement Agreement drafted by a lawyer.
During this process, you can attend mediation (usually, it is best to have a family law/divorce attorney advise you through mediation, or you can each be represented by your own lawyer, and the two attorneys will attempt to negotiate a resolution. Then, a Separation Agreement/Marital Settlement Agreement will be drafted, and you will have a written contract to settle your differences.
Settling a DC separation or divorce out-of-court gives you both the ability to have major input into the outcome of your own family situation. Once you are in the court system, you are subject to numerous court hearings, and if you are unable to arrive at a resolution, a Judge will decide for you.
If you are able to reach a settlement and choose to proceed to a divorce, you can do so in a very easy manner through an Uncontested Divorce. This is a quick and easy process, but you can only do so if you have settled all of the property, support, and custody issues.
Before deciding the best method to reach a resolution, it is best to consult with a family lawyer/divorce lawyer to talk through your situation. Then you will have the legal advice you need to adequately determine how to move forward.