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The Divorce Encyclopedia

Term Definition Litigation - the process of fighting a legal dispute in court.
Application in Divorce The term litigation is generally reserved for a battle in court before a judge. By definition it is adversarial, pitting a man and a woman who once had high hopes of a life together as combatants at war for money, goods and the custody of children. Divorces that go to trial are civil litigation. Of all the scenes in courtrooms, divorce trials can be among the saddest and sorriest. Any other route to the dissolution of a marriage -- mediation, arbitration, pro se uncontested actions -- is less expensive, financially and emotionally and mentally, than divorce by litigation.

One source estimates that a two-day divorce trial with "the most basic expert testimony" can easily cost more than a $70,000. This includes the initial meeting, discovery, trial preparation, pretrial motions, court time, expert fees (custody expert, actuary, vocation expert) and court reporter.

Going into litigation, a lawyer can at best provide only an educated guess as to the cost. But it is not unreasonable that a two-day trial may entail 100 hours of legal preparation at his hourly rate.

It is not surprising then that an estimated 90 per cent of the court cases settle before the trial begins. Very often this means preparing for trial even as the spouses continue to negotiate via written settlement offers and perhaps settlement conferences. All of this adds an intangible cost to litigation -- stress.

Even a one-day trial with no expert witnesses can cost tens of thousands.

Litigation is the most expensive way to end a marriage.

See also Trial.

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