Divorce is a stressful enough experience. Going through a full-blown trial in front of a judge can multiply that stress exponentially. Fortunately, most divorcing couples in Colorado don’t need to go to trial.
Most divorce cases are resolved outside the courtroom through a settlement negotiated by the parties and their lawyers. In some cases, the parties reach a settlement after going through an alternative dispute resolution process, such as collaborative divorce or mediation. The judge will generally sign off on the settlement agreement after a brief hearing in which the parties answer a few questions and the judge determines the agreement is not patently unfair to one spouse.
In most cases a settlement is preferable to trial, for several reasons. Trials are expensive; in addition to attorney’s fees there are costs associated with preparing exhibits, and fees charged by expert witnesses who may be called to testify. Trials also involve an element of risk; no matter how well-prepared you are and how persuasively you present your case, it is very difficult to predict how the judge will rule.
Settlement is especially preferable in most high asset divorce cases. Where significant property interests are involved, the parties can often do a better job of reaching a solution than a judge who is not as familiar with the couple’s personal and business assets. The courtroom is usually not the best place to resolve complex asset valuation issues and the division of real estate holdings, family business interests, retirement plans and offshore accounts.
Source: FindLaw, “Settlement Agreements and Court Approval,” accessed April 12, 2015