People in California who are divorcing may prefer to try to negotiate an agreement instead of going to court. However, if one spouse is uncooperative or the two simply cannot reach an agreement about property division and child custody, it may be time to decide whether it is best to agree to a settlement that leaves at least one person unsatisfied or go to litigation.
Litigation can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. People often do not realize that they may have to drop everything to get information to an attorney quickly, taking them away from work or caring for their children. Litigation can increase tensions between the individuals divorcing and be stressful for children as well. It may further damage the relationship between parents who still need to be able to cooperate with one another after the divorce.
Litigation can also take months or more than a year. People who feel that their negotiations are mostly futile may want to move directly to litigation to avoid wasting any more time. They should also be prepared for the cost of litigation, which can run into four or five figures. Despite these drawbacks, litigation may be worthwhile for people who are unable to reach an agreement with a spouse but have a strong case to present in court.
In California, a community property state, marital property is supposed to be divided equally. However, in practice, this does not necessarily mean that all assets will be divided 50/50. Negotiation may give people the opportunity to reach a more flexible solution to property division, but individuals who are arguing over how to divide a business or other assets may have to go to litigation. If the dispute is over child custody, the court will determine the arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.