Examples of When It May Be Best to Go To Trial in a Maryland/D.C. Divorce 

Too Many Questions. Pile of colorful paper notes with question marks. Closeup.

Most divorce cases settle long before a full trial is conducted by the divorce court. Indeed, studies show that more than three-fourths of divorce cases are “uncontested.” This means that the spouses are not disputing a major aspect of the divorce — like custody, alimony, property division, etc. — and are in basic agreement about everything. Moreover, even in contested divorce cases, most of those will settle before trial. “Settlement” means that, after negotiation, the spouses ultimately agree on all the major issues.

However, there are some circumstances where “going to trial” may be the best option. Of course, a Maryland or District of Columbia couple only needs to go to trial if there are disputed issues. Thus, ultimately, going to trial means that the couple cannot — or will not — agree on at least one important issue in the divorce. And — importantly — sometimes it is the better option to refuse to concede an important issue and go to trial. Below, the Maryland and D.C. family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl discuss some examples where it may be better to go to trial.

When one side or the other is being completely unreasonable

Maryland and D.C. divorce courts resolve several major issues, including property division, child custody, and alimony. Sometimes, a divorcing couple can be completely unreasonable about how matters should be resolved. Take alimony as an example. Assume a couple was living on $100,000 income per year. It would be completely unreasonable for one spouse to demand $10,000 a month in alimony. It would be just as unreasonable to agree to pay only $100 a month. Because the judge’s decision will be much more reasonable, it is better to go to trial in such a case than compromise.

When one side has the “law” completely wrong

Sometimes one side or the other will have a completely wrong understanding of the law. Maybe one side absolutely insists that they are entitled to alimony or that joint custody of children can never be awarded. Those legal principles are not true under the divorce laws of Maryland or D.C. Because the judge will know the law, it is better to go to trial in such a case than compromise.

Where significant money is at stake

With property settlements, for example, significant sums of money may be involved depending on how a question is resolved. For example, is one spouse’s $500,000 stock account “marital” or “non-marital” property. How the court answers that question will significantly impact the property settlement and, maybe, other issues like alimony.

Where there is genuine uncertainty

Sometimes, it is better to go to trial when there are genuine uncertainties. For example, if a marital asset involves a family-run business, there may be legitimate and genuine uncertainty about how to value that business for purposes of property settlement. In those sorts of cases, it may be better to go to trial and have the court decide.

When values cannot be compromised

Sometimes, the issues involve values and a sense of “right and wrong.” These often involve children and whether another parent should be involved in that child’s upbringing. When values are at issue, compromise is often impossible. As such, these issues can only be resolved at trial.

Maryland And D.C. Family Law Attorneys

Contact the seasoned and experienced Maryland and D.C. family law lawyers at The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl for more information. We have the skills and expertise you need. We have proven experience with family law for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Schedule a consultation today or call us at (410) 696-4326 or (202) 964-7280. We have offices in Columbia, MD, and Washington, DC.