Family law litigation is an adversarial legal method where both parties resolve their legal issues in court. Together with their lawyers, each party argues their case before a judge and the judge ultimately decides the outcome of the case. The court system is a public service, meaning the legal proceedings occur in traditional court rooms with public servants within government facilities. While the court resources may not always be the most efficient, litigation is often considered the only suitable (and most effective) legal option for some situations. Either party can start a legal proceeding in court at anytime (without the other party’s consent) and the responding party cannot withdraw from the process because participation is mandatory (once started). The legal proceeding ends if both parties can reach a settlement, or when the judge makes a final decision.
- Consent – You can proceed with litigation without the consent of your (ex)spouse.
- Compliance – Your (ex)spouse must comply with the process (and final decision), even when cooperation is low (or not possible).
- Enforceable – Court orders are enforceable by law, often required when the well-being or safety of your child(ren) or yourself is at risk.
- Expensive – Resolving your legal issues may cost tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars depending on the level of conflict and/or complexity of your issues.
- Slow – Resolving non-urgent legal issues can take months or years.
- Unpredictable – Timelines and outcomes are unpredictable because you have no control over the court resources or schedules.
- Public – Your information is part of the public record and accessible by the general population (or media).
Is Litigation Right for You?
Generally, litigation may be appropriate when the other legal methods have proven unsuccessful or unsuitable. For some situations, litigation may be the only available legal option, particularly if your (ex)spouse is abusive, uncooperative, unreasonable, elusive and/or has a history of other counterproductive behavioral issues.