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What does it mean to go through a litigated divorce?

Although a person might know that divorce is the right option for his or her family, it may not be exactly clear what the divorce process entails. On a very basic level, couples separate their lives that have become entwined over the course of a marriage. This process includes dividing finances and determining how parenting arrangements will shake out, if children are involved in the split.

As the divorce process moves forward, couples can determine whether they will try to reach an agreement outside of court or allow it to be heard in court, or litigated, before a family law judge. When faced with either scenario, individuals should do what is in their best interests and the interests of their family.

Some people may want to keep a divorce as amicable as possible by collaborating on an out-of-court settlement, but that might not be possible in certain situations. When this happens, a person must prepare for court.

Couples who can't come to terms during divorce may leave it up to the discretion of judge. As one family law observer notes, judges are very busy -- they hear hundreds of cases every year. As such, it's important to cover the most critical aspects of the divorce case. Spelling out the main reasons for maintaining custody or retaining assets, rather than getting bogged down in minutiae, can be helpful.

Depending on the situation, the judge could end up issuing his or her own settlement orders or sending the case into out-of-court mediation. In other words, a person must be prepared for any possibility.

It goes without saying that this process can be complex, confusing and -- at times -- intimidating. As such, seeking advice can help ensure the right measures are taken and the best-possible arrangement is ultimately reached.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Divorce Process: Let me Introduce You to the Judge," Jackie Pilossoph, Jan. 8, 2014

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