Litigation: A Divorce Process That Isn’t For Wimps

divorce litigation

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

There are a few different ways to get divorced. Here are some options:


1. You and your soon to be ex can go online and do it yourselves.
2. You and your soon to be ex can go to an attorney and figure it out yourselves (and actually use the same attorney.)
3. You and your ex can each get attorneys and figure it out yourselves.
4. You can try mediation.
5. You can try collaborative divorce, which is a form of mediation.

Or… you can go the traditional route….


Deciding which way to get divorced depends on so many factors. These include:


*Why the couple is getting divorced.


In other words, if the split is amicable, mediation might be easy and doable. If one person left the other person for someone else, there might be all kinds of bitterness, anger and resentment, and the couple might choose litigation because they are unable to communicate.


*The value of assets.


In high net worth cases, there are more assets to fight over, making the case more complex.




If there are children, and custody disputes, the chances of litigating are greater.


*Who the lawyers are.

Lawyers are advisors to the clients, so an attorney can have an impact on what the client decides. If he or she is a really good attorney (in my opinion) they will educate the client and give him or her options and let them be part of the decision.



I personally have gone through both mediation and litigation, and I have to say, litigation is a very very difficult, frustrating and scary process. That said, oftentimes it is necessary, so I’m not saying no one should litigate his or her divorce. I’m just saying be prepared.

Litigation is not for wimps.

Here are some tips for those who decide litigation is the way to go:


1. Remember that litigation takes time: If you want a quick solution and you want to “be done” with your divorce, this is not the way to go. Litigation takes years, often times with frustrating results and high lawyer bills. Lawyer bills come in the mail and it’s upsetting because you think, ‘I’m no further along than I was a year ago.’” The worst part is, litigation can fuel anger between you and your ex, that the kids ultimately feel it, and that’s so much worse than the lawyer fees and non-results.


2. Litigation can make you want to crawl into bed for a year: There were times when I was seriously so depressed, because I just wanted it to be over. Divorce litigation is exhausting, and it takes so much out of a person. That said, you can’t quit litigation so easily, so you have to be very very patient, trust the process, and try to stay upbeat. You also have to trust your attorney. If you don’t at any time, DO NOT be afraid to switch attorneys.


3. Litigation creates bullies: “You’re going to lose,” “The judge is for sure going to side with me,” “You better settle because you’re going to be really sorry when we go to court.” “You don’t have a case.” “This is a no-brainer. I’m winning.” These are statements that people have told me their ex’s have said to them during the divorce process. Clearly, these are things a bully would say. DO NOT listen to them. Let them roll off of you. Pretend you didn’t hear them. They will only cause you to be upset. Instead, listen to your attorney, and to your gut.


4. Litigation will make you realize “Life aint’ fair.” I have major issues with how our legal system works when it comes to divorce. It’s painfully slow and impersonal and sometimes decisions get made for people’s life by a judge who doesn’t even know you at all! I think there are many cases out there where judges are too busy and overwhelmed to really hear the specifics of the cases, and they have a hard time managing all the cases. So, things get pushed back and pushed back and pushed back, costing more and more and more money.  So, say to yourself, “life aint fair,” and either take steps to end the litigation, i.e. work it out with your ex or try to settle through mediation, or accept and control the things in your life that you can control.


5. Forget pride: If you think you can call your ex and settle things yourself, DO IT!! Who cares about your pride and anger and the past? Be smart. Of course, consult your attorney first. If he or she is a good attorney they will be honest on whether or not they think it’s possible to settle yourself. I have a friend who spent $150,000 on attorneys. One night, she called her ex and said, ‘Let’s just settle this ourselves.” They came to an agreement via phone. They had their lawyers draw up the order, they went into court and it was done. She said it was so difficult and she was gritting her teeth the whole time. But, it worked.
6. Trust your gut: This statement is regarding both litigation and your attorneys. If you don’t feel that litigation is working, take steps to change the process. It’s never too late to try to settle. People think it is, because they feel like they are in so deep. But as deep as you are, settling is always an option. You can always at least try to get out of it. It’s somewhat in your control (Although, I think there are certain people who there’s just no reasoning with and it’s a lost cause.)


Like this article? Check out, “15 Survival Tips For Those Going Through A Divorce”



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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

6 Responses to “Litigation: A Divorce Process That Isn’t For Wimps”

  1. Kathleen

    Wow Jackie, spot on again. I lost my daughters tuition ,to the tune of two years on attorney’s fees. I received nothing on the sale of my house as it all went to fees. My ex fought me to the bitter end and as a result out spent me on fees. That said, it was worth every penny for me. I know a bit unusual, but without an attorney he would have had me living in a box under Wacker Dr. The whole experience is bad enough without the nasty comments. I’m sure I had a few, but the most interesting part was how kind he was when he wanted to give me a measly amount for 3 years and call it square. Thank God for Marcy Kott. I’m all about a good and fair attorney representing BOTH sides. A man and his money, changes Everything about his personality. Great article Jackie. Fair to both sides. Thanks!!!!

  2. Vanessa

    I saw this blog and thought “Wow” I’ve so been there! I fought with my husband constantly for two years before finally finding the strength to talk to an atttorney. I “shopped” lawyers in New Orleans for as long as I felt I could get away with it before picking one. I hired Jason Bruzik at the civil law center and one thing he told me stuck with me. he said my husband would try to bully me, scare me and try to trick me and to never sign a thing my husband brought home. He was right. I talked to my lawyer about mediation, but when Don tried to get me to sign a consent judgment it was like a light went off. I called my lawyer the next day and said i wanted everything. All Don’s talk went out the window once my lawyer started filing. I disagree with the other post, I dont want fair, I want a lawyer who represents ME and doesnt care about Don. I got the house and kids and my ex gets to pay me every month.

  3. Alice Carroll

    You made a good point that forgetting about pride in favor of settling things with an ex is a good way to make a divorce litigation go easier. A friend of mine who has been living in my house for almost a month now has been thinking about how she could have a civil discussion with her husband in order to have a better picture on how their divorce should go. Perhaps hiring a civil litigation attorney would help her better strategize her next actions before the process of separation truly begins.


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