For many people, divorce is something they have never been through before. Even for people who are on a subsequent marriage, each divorce is unique just as each marriage is unique. It is inherently full of uncertainties and unknowns that you have little or no control over.
If you are approaching a divorce, you may be wondering if your case will go to trial. There is no one-size-fits-all answer that applies to each divorce case. It depends on many factors, such as whether there is a prenuptial agreement, whether you and your spouse are willing to go to work together, and more.
The one thing you can be sure of is that hiring a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer can help represent your interests, whether you go to court or not. Having an attorney on your side to answer your questions and provide guidance and legal counsel is invaluable at this juncture in life.
Prenup Agreements and Divorce Trials
In divorces where the couple signed a prenup or even a postnup agreement that is uncontested and enforceable, the case will not likely go to trial. However, if one spouse claims that the prenup should not be enforced and the couple cannot reach an agreement, it will probably go to trial. To be enforceable, prenups must:
- Be in writing and signed by both parties
- Be generally fair to both parties or not unconscionable
- Not be executed under duress or the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Not dictate child support matters
When a legally binding prenup or postnup exists, the divorce usually goes much smoother and quicker for everyone involved.
Division of Assets
If a couple cannot agree on how to divide the assets of their marriage, a court will be called upon to do so instead. Especially in high asset cases, it can be challenging for all assets to be included in the divorce filing. Each asset must be located and put on the divorce petition with its value. Couples with high assets often choose to work with forensic accountants or other financial professionals to help ensure that all of their assets are accounted for and that the division is fair.
Child Custody and Support
If you have children, their custody and financial support are some of the most significant areas of contention for couples who are divorcing. If couples are unable to come to an agreement about who owes what for child support and how much custody each parent should have, the matter will be placed in the court’s hands. They will make their determination based on the law and what is best for the child.
The Collaborative Divorce Option
For couples choosing to end their marriage who want to avoid a trial and going to court, a collaborative divorce might be the best option. In a collaborative divorce, the goal is to work with your attorney, your spouse, their attorney, and possibly other family professionals like mediators and counselors to achieve a settlement that will best meet the needs of you and your spouse as well as any children. A collaborative divorce highly incentivizes the parties to reach an out-of-court settlement, as the attorneys for each party must withdraw if a settlement is not reached, leaving the parties starting over from square one.
Taking the route of a collaborative divorce will help you avoid uncertain outcomes at trial and may even take less time. The key to having a successful collaborative divorce is to have two willing spouses who can work together to create the best situation possible in light of the divorce and to have a Pennsylvania divorce attorney who is well-versed in collaborative divorce.
Settling your divorce in a pre-trial settlement does not mean that you and your soon to be ex-spouse must agree on everything. You might reach a partial settlement, which means you can agree on some issues and allow the courts to work out the issues you cannot resolve. Whether you have a full or a partial settlement for your divorce, the judge will issue the final divorce order, including anything you have reached an agreement on that they believe to be fair.
What Happens at a Divorce Trial
Most divorce cases are tried at a bench trial, simply meaning by a single judge and not a jury. The most common issues dealt with at a divorce trial are:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Homeownership, and all the financial matters associated with it
- Division of assets, liabilities, property, and debts
At the trial, you or your divorce attorney in Pennsylvania and your spouse or their lawyer will call witnesses to the stand. These witnesses could attest to how each parent treats the children and their past parenting behaviors, who has done what in the marriage, and give the court other vital pieces of information to make the most ethical decisions. Each party will provide evidence to support their claims and refute what their spouse might be saying. Evidence might include:
- Financial statements or bills
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs
- Business records (if applicable)
- Medical records or bills
- School records for your children
When the trial concludes, the judge will take time to review and reflect on the facts of your case and apply Pennsylvania’s divorce laws. When the judge has made their final decisions regarding your divorce, it will write a final order, known as a divorce decree or a final divorce judgment. This order will state the court’s rulings on every issue and state the reasons they were made. You may find that some of the rulings are in your favor and what you had hoped for, and some are not.
Help from a Skilled Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney
No matter how good or bad your divorce seems to be going, our knowledgeable legal team is here for you. We can assist you no matter what type of divorce you are seeking and whether or not you want to go to trial. Our attorneys have the passion and dedication to work for what is best for you and your family.
If you want an experienced divorce lawyer in Pennsylvania on your side, reach out to Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, LLC today at (215) 523-6900, chat with a live agent, or schedule your consultation online.