The divorce decisions you make are going to impact you for the rest of your life. In the “heat of your battle,” the right decisions are difficult, if not impossible.

You may favor settling out of court. Or going to trial may serve you better. Your choice – divorce or trial? – is among the biggest of your life.

Is it worth your time or money?

If you agree on most issues, you and your spouse can negotiate a settlement within weeks. If you head to trial, the timeline is set by the court and can take a year or longer. You must decide how important it is to get on with your life as soon as possible.

When you select a trial, you are going to miss work for your court appearances. Other court costs come into play, too. The expense of negotiating a settlement almost always is less than a trial.

Is it worth the stress and outcome?

A trial adds to the stress because so many factors are out of your control. You are “on call” for court appearances, documents and appointments. If you are negotiating your settlement, you have more of a say in the process. Spending more time with your spouse in talks, though, can cause its own emotional distress.

The results depend on your relationship with your spouse. When you negotiate, you can make personal concessions in recognition of your once-close status. At trial, a judge is going to follow the law and may not rule in a way that is favorable to you.

The process is complex, filled with questions that you have never considered. Your goal is to achieve an acceptable outcome at a minimal cost.

Is it worth your future?

No one wants a drawn-out divorce. At the same, you do not want to make decisions that lead to a bad settlement.

You have many questions. Is your spouse going to play fair? How much control do you want over the process? Careful, studied analysis of the situation will serve you well.