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Risk & Cost of Litigation in Colorado Divorce


Summary:  The method of revolving disputes in court is now generally disfavored because of its high cost in several areas, including severed family relationships and poor results. Legal fees can run $10,000 to $50,000 or more for each side. The time to litigate a case can be 1 year or longer. Asked about the process after the final court hearing, essentially all parties state that they would not resort to the courtroom again. Instead, use other tools, such as mediation.


Divorce Court Trials in Colorado

In years past, Colorado couples who had decided to obtain a legal separation or divorce each hired a different attorney and allowed a trial court to make the decisions regarding the division of property and debts, co-parenting, support, and related issues.

This process is still used today by a few couples.  However, it is very expensive financially, takes a lot of time, and further damages family relationships. In most cases, it is done because the couple is not aware that there are better methods of resolving their case.  Such as mediation.

The myth that truth and justice (and revenge) will be "found" in a courtroom is false.  Because of time constraints and an ever-increasing divorce case load, judges do not have the time to hear every detail of every family law proceeding. And, often attorneys do not do the best job of presenting a case to the court. And no one knows the facts of each case as well as the parties themselves.  Thus, in many cases, the judges make rulings based on inaccurate or incomplete information.  The result is a court order which is not a good fit for the unique circumstances and needs of both spouses and any minor children.

In a family conflict, most often the parties are focused on themselves and are concerned about their rights and entitlements, and not on their responsibilities towards others and their children. Each party (and their attorney) tries to "win" by getting the other party to "lose."  One of the methods used to achieve a win-lose result is to focus on damaging the other party.  However, in most of these divorce cases, both parties come away from the courtroom feeling that they have both been damaged - by each other.  Further, family relationships other than just the two parties are also damaged. Such as relationships between the children and both parents.

Typical Attorney Fee Costs of Divorce Court Trials

Highly-contested court proceedings where both parties are represented by separate divorce attorneys often cost $10,000 to $50,000 per party in attorney fees.  Sometimes $100,000 or more. This high cost is a result of lack of proper disclosure (hide the ball tactics) and the need to dispute every issue at each part of the process.  Often costs are increased through the use of outside experts such as accountants, parenting evaluations, property appraisers, and vocational evaluators.  The time needed to complete a contested divorce is generally more than 1 year.

The Spouses Would Not Do It Again

When asked after a final orders court hearing whether they would do it again the same way, essentially all parties state that they would not.  Because of the extraordinary costs and poor results, both financial and emotional.  They realize that they would have been much better off if they had determined their own resolution.  In mediation, they would have achieved much better results, at a fraction of the cost and time, with much less damage to family relationships.

GIF The material on this web site is for informational purposes only. This law firm practices only in Colorado. An attorney-client relationship is established only when an agreement as to the scope of representation and fees has been signed and a retainer paid. Colorado law may consider these web site materials to be attorney advertising. GIF
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