Part 4: Preparing for a Divorce Trial in Massachusetts

QUESTION 4: What will it cost?

Some people are resolute about what they believe they want as an outcome, rejecting alternative solutions [mediation v. litigation], and seem determined to have their day in court. Difficulties can sometimes arise, however, due to the cost of trial. The cost of litigation is something that you have to consider. For instance, you do not want to go to trial in a case that involves a dispute over a few thousand dollars. The cost of litigation will sometimes equal or exceed the amount in controversy. However, there are cases where the dispute is not over valuation but rather custody or removal. Trials about children are the most contentious and the most expensive. By the time you go through your pretrial conference, your status conference, have participated in conciliation, all without settlement, you could have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees. The time required by the attorneys to properly prepare your case for trial and to present the case likewise is going to be costly. This is a difficulty that is inherent to the system, and you should be prepared.

Even if you are willing to compromise, this does not always mean that you can always avoid trial. Some cases must be tried for many reasons. Sometimes one party will not compromise. Sometimes, there is a genuine disagreement, despite best efforts, and the ultimate decision must be left to the judge. If you know that you have such a case, you may want to make sure that you have resources to finance the trial. Trials can be very expensive, and an unfavorable result may then go up on appeal, which is yet another significant expense to consider.

When you are faced with options during your case that you can live with, spend the time and time of your counsel to discuss the pros and cons of making calculated concessions. If you must go to trial, do it for the best of reasons.

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