Here are the reasons, as I see them, why too many divorce cases cost so much and take so long to finish (in no particular order):
1. Some divorce lawyers are more interested in making money practicing law than in helping their clients by practicing law with decency and for a fair price. So it pays to drag a case out.
2. Some divorce lawyers are afraid to move a case expeditiously and efficiently. So it feels less risky to drag a case out.
2(a). I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve had cases last for years, some of which could have been shortened without any real risk of harm to the client or the kids, but I was afraid to take the case to trial and hoped for a settlement. Many times a case that should go to trial and done with is not taken to trial out of a vain hope that a worthwhile settlement is just around the corner.
3. The court system is generally inefficient and easy to game.
4. Clients run out of money or run short on money, so they put the progress of the case toward trial “on hold” while they save up their money and/or try to work out a settlement with their spouses.
If you are someone with an average income and an average net worth and if you believe your divorce is going to be a hotly contested one, you might literally be better off offering to divide everything (assets and debts and custody of the kids) more or less equally with your spouse and then sweetening the pot by saying to him/her, “and on top of all that, if you’ll agree to this, I’ll throw in $10,000 for you to avoid us wasting money on litigating.” Do that, and you’ll like do better than if you took the case to trial and spent $30,000 or so and a year or two on litigation.
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