Although the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer immortalized divorce trials for Hollywood, in real life, the vast majority of divorces never reach the stage at which the parties litigate issues in front of a judge. Many divorcing couples take advantage of out-of-court alternatives, such as non-contested divorce, mediation and collaborative divorce proceedings. Still, sometimes litigated divorce is the only option.

For example, if only one party wants to divorce, or both parties want to divorce but have wildly different views regarding essential issues such as property division, custody or support, the parties may have no choice but to pursue litigated divorce.

In this situation, also called a “contested divorce,” each party hires an attorney to represent their respective interests.

The Many Disadvantages of Litigated Divorce

For starters, emotions are already running high during divorce. Putting the parties at odds with one another often breeds more antagonism—the last thing anyone needs during this already challenging time.

In practical terms, litigated divorce tends to be the most expensive way to get divorced, since both parties are paying attorney fees, filing fees, discovery fees, etc. Moreover, because the court system is involved, proceedings may drag on—which can prevent you from starting your new life as quickly as possible.

If you have children, they will inevitably become part of the process, as the court is likely to appoint someone to represent your children’s interests.

You also relinquish a lot of control when you hand over your fate to a judge. While each side will make arguments and recommendations, ultimately, the judge decides what will happen in this divorce.

And finally, court proceedings are public record.

However, it is still an option for couples who just can’t find another way. And just because a divorce is contested, however, doesn’t mean it will make its way to court for a judicial decision. Even in a litigated divorce, an out-of-court settlement is still possible, and, in many cases, likely.


Mary C. Neff, JD | Attorney | mneff@aegisps.com | (314) 454-9100 ext. 109 | Learn more about Mary