Kirk Stange, Founding Partner at Stange Law Firm and author of the book Prenuptial Agreements Line by Line, has learned many valuable lessons during his time as the president of one of the largest family law firms in America. As an attorney in the field of family law, Kirk Stange has built his legal practice on advocating for clients during legal proceedings related to familial disputes, including divorce/separation, child custody, and alternative dispute resolution for divorce, including the aforementioned out-of-court settlements.

Since founding Stange Law Firm in 2007, he has been named one of the top attorneys in the field of family law by lists such as Missouri Lawyers Media’s POWER List for Family Law and the Super Lawyers for Family Law List by Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers Magazine. He has written a book titled Prenuptial Agreements Line by Line. He is also the president of the Missouri Collaborative Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of the collaborative law method for resolving family law and divorce disputes in a peaceful, amiable manner.

One of the most important lessons Stange has learned over the course of his career is the often-overlooked advantage of settling a divorce case out of court. “Settling a divorce case out of court will save you time, money, and stress,” Stange explains. “Clients often underestimate how costs associated with divorce litigation can accumulate both in the leadup to a court case and during the case itself. By the end of a case, you will need to pay for court-related fees, attorney’s fees, and other related legal expenses.”

The average cost of a divorce in the United States is around $15,000-20,000, but depending on factors such as disagreements about property and/or child custody, a divorce court case can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. By seeking out alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative law, settling a divorce case out of court can allow both parties to save money while still reaching a desirable solution. While many prefer to engage in direct negotiations, most individuals need the help of legal counsel to reach an amicable settlement. The reality is that if settlement were easy, many would not be getting divorced in the first place. Thus, having an attorney is always vital. 

“From the perspective of someone who has seen many divorce cases, clients should also consider the emotional toll the process takes on themselves and their families, especially when children are involved,” Stange added. “Settling a case out of court speeds up the process and ensures that your children don’t have to suffer emotionally through a prolonged court case.” However, settlement is not easy for most when parties have different views on what is fair and reasonable in terms of property and debt division, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance.

In some cases, the parties’ positions may be too far apart for settlement. Furthermore, when one or both parties are unreasonable and unwilling to compromise, or when there is a power imbalance, unfair dealings, or a pattern of domestic violence, settlement may be difficult. In these circumstances, it is vital to have a lawyer who is a litigator.

Overall, however, settling a divorce case out of court can be preferable, when possible, because it gives clients more control over the negotiation process and the outcome of the case. Divorce cases in court are still subject to the rulings of a judge, which does not guarantee a better result. Furthermore, out-of-court settlements allow for more flexible agreements between both parties that are not subject to the legal requirements of decisions made in court. The most effective alternative dispute resolution techniques are mediation and collaborative law. Most understand how mediation works. However, collaborative law is where both parties have a collaborative trained lawyer with the addition of other professionals such as a divorce coach, financial neutral, and child custody professional.   

Divorces are always difficult on families’ finances, relationships, and emotions. No matter what course of action a client decides to take during their court case, it is important to find good legal counsel and make the decision that is best for their financial, familial, and emotional health. While out-of-court settlements are usually preferable, they are not always possible. Clients should assess their own needs and find the solution that is best for their individual circumstances.

Author's Bio: 

A Passionate Blogger and Content Creator.