In divorce litigation, lawyers and clients use the public courts to resolve issues that arise in their cases and ultimately to let the judge make the final decision. It is a formal, adversarial process that pits the attorneys on each side against each other in an attempt to achieve their clients' objectives. For example, the client may want temporary child support or other temporary support from his/her spouse while the divorce is pending. If the clients are litigating, the lawyer would request a temporary orders hearing in front of the judge. This entails presenting evidence and testimony to the judge who then decides the outcome. As one may expect, this method is time consuming and costly. The lawyer must first gather information about the other side's case through a formal process called "discovery." Then, the lawyer must prepare for the hearing, draft necessary legal documents, and appear at the hearing. After this, the case will be set for a trial, which adds to the expense of the divorce. Depending on the court's schedule, the trial may be several months after the initial request; even then, your matter will probably not go to trial on that day, for any number of reasons (such as the unavailability of the judge, an attorney, a major witness, or because the discovery has not been completed).
In litigation, the atmosphere is generally not conducive to settling the matter without court intervention, and any settlement is normally based on the parties' fear of litigation as opposed to the parties' legitimate interests and goals. Litigation may be especially appropriate in situations in which the spouses are extremely angry, abusive, or contentious with each other and one spouse controls most of the resources, decision making, or other power point of the marriage. The parties never have to communicate with each other or even see each other, unless in the courtroom. Again, the parties let the judge determine the outcome and terms of their divorce decree instead of working it out themselves. Litigation is still the most common way of obtaining a divorce today, and the attorneys at Hance & Wickham practice litigation in their clients' cases every day.