Why is going to trial so expensive?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

The divorce petition is filed with the court and the spouse is served.  The spouse has 20 calendar days to file and answer and a counter petition for dissolution of marriage.  Over the next month or so, mandatory disclosure is produced by both husband and wife.  This may include the following: pay stubs, tax returns, credit card receipts, bank statements, stock portfolios, deeds, titles, and any other evidence of income, assets or debts of the marriage or separate property of the parties.  Armed with all this paper, this “discovery”, both spouses and their lawyers attend mediation in an attempt to settle the divorce case and any disputed issues between the parties.  If a settlement occurs, the marital settlement agreement becomes part of a court order, the final divorce decree.

Should mediation not result in a partial or global marital settlement, the next step involves divorce litigation. Going to divorce court means taking the case to the judge so he or she can decide what is going to be for the future of the family.   A temporary relief hearing is set, which essentially is a mini trial.  The court order resulting from a temporary relief hearing sets forth the terms of the separation on a temporary basis pending the divorce proceedings.  Now the fun begins.

Issues such as a valuation of a business formed during the marriage can complicate the divorce.  Issues involving the employability of a stay at home spouse can complicate the divorce.  Issues regarding an unfit parent and who is to have custody can complicate a divorce.  Issues about relocation with children out of the state can complicate a divorce.  Hidden monies offshore can complicate a divorce. Money spent on paramours can complicate a divorce.  What is marital property versus what is non marital property can complicate a divorce.  Drugs and alcohol use along with domestic violence and general health issues can complicate a divorce.  Appraisals of jewelry and property can complicate a divorce.

Along with these divorce complications, come the expert witnesses to testify on behalf of each of their clients.  These include child psychologists, marriage counselors, forensic CPAs, appraisers, real estate agents, good mommy or good daddy friends, doctors, relatives.  Sometimes all these witnesses need to be deposed prior to trial.  And paid for their time and expertise.  Or testimony at trial.  Documents that can fill libraries are generated as evidence.  Each exhibit has to be marked for admissibility into evidence.  And your divorce lawyer has to know what is on every piece of paper and where to find it in the boxes and boxes of documents.

Trial preparation, from the point of strategizing the case, to obtaining necessary information and organizing the file, to speaking in the courtroom is time consuming, stressful, and very expensive.  The more complex issues there are in dispute between the spouses, the more expensive the trial will be.  By way of example, a straightforward half day trial can cost between $15,000 – $20,000 to prepare.  At Robin Roshkind, P.A., the lawyers always attempt settlement prior to switching gears toward litigation.   For more information, visit the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. Divorce Lawyers at www.familylawwpb.com or call for a consultation with one of the Firm’s experienced divorce lawyers at 561-835-9091.

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