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What Are The Potential Outcomes In A Divorce Case?

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Before pursuing a divorce, it's a good idea to know the potential legal outcomes of a case. A divorce attorney will tell you the following five things about how a case may land.


Foremost, it's important to understand that divorce is unstoppable if even one party wants their marriage over. Some states have cooling-off periods that might allow a party to delay the process a bit. Likewise, there may be some delays in the filing process.

Also, the party suing for divorce will have to serve the other with papers. Even if the recipient dodges taking the papers, the filer can eventually ask a judge to move ahead with the petition.


For a divorce attorney, a settlement is always the preferred outcome. This means both parties meet, usually with the benefit of counsel for each person. They agree to conditions governing the end of the marriage.

A settlement will cover the disposition of property, assets, and debts. If there are children involved, this is a good time to address concerns about support, visitation, and custody, too.


If two parties are struggling to settle or one party is flat-out fighting the process, a court may intervene. Generally, family court judges try to not get involved in full-on hearings or trials unless there is a compelling and unresolved legal issue that requires jurisprudence.

Instead, a judge will usually prefer to send a court-appointed officer to conduct conferences with the two parties. The officer is typically either a divorce lawyer or social services provider by trade. If a couple isn't reaching a custody agreement, for example, the officer might propose one.

Neither party has to agree to the proposal. However, the court-appointed officer will report to the judge. That report will include the officer's assessment regarding why the matter isn't resolved.


Ideally, an unresolved issue should use as little of the judge's time as possible. A court will usually schedule a hearing if conferences don't work things out. The judge will listen to the parties' concerns and rule from the bench. If necessary, the court will enter an order stating how the parties should proceed.


Divorce trials are notably rare. The issues at hand need to be complex enough the judge doesn't feel they're fixable at a hearing. The system normally reserves trials for situations that don't have clear precedents in case law. You might also see a trial if there are accusations of fraud or misrepresentation in the handling of marital assets. For more information, contact a divorce attorney.