How to “Win” in Your Divorce

Unfortunately, the reality is divorce presents many more opportunities to lose than to win. However, choices can be made to maximize the probability of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Mitchell Reichman

Mitchell Reichman

May 10, 2023 02:37 PM

No one contemplates divorce when they are getting married. While some people plan with a pre-nuptial agreement, many do not. If that relationship, which was at one point the most important and fulfilling aspect of your life, is ending, it is hard to envision what real “winning” would look like. Unfortunately, the reality is divorce presents many more opportunities to lose than to win. However, choices can be made to maximize the probability of obtaining a favorable outcome. Representing clients in high conflict, high net-worth divorces, I have counseled my clients on three key aspects.

  1. Avoid going to court;
  2. Stay forward looking, not stuck in past wrongs and grievances; and
  3. Make decisions that put you and your children in the best position to thrive, not just survive.

This is the first in a series of articles on how to “win” in your divorce and it is focused on the value of staying out of the court system.

The costliest, and often the most unpredictable, way to resolve any of the issues in your divorce is to ask a judge to do so. The cost is both emotional and financial. When judges make decisions, there will be a “winner” and a “loser.” Parents who lose in court are often more oppositional and less likely to be effective co-parents, so what starts out as a “win” often sets the stage for a long-term conflict that is damaging to children. The financial cost is obvious. An experienced family law attorney invests time to provide a compelling presentation of your positions to give you the best chance to persuade a judge to adopt them, and that will be expensive. The more issues that are unable to be resolved, the higher the cost will be.

Unpredictable results are the consequence of the Arizona family law system in Maricopa County. Judges have minimal training prior to their appointment to the family law bench. Most judges have no background in family law issues and no experience representing someone in a divorce. Each is assigned the responsibility of thousands of cases which severely limits the amount of time they can give any parties to present their issues. While the Arizona family law judges are doing their best to make decisions that are fair, they are learning on the fly. On their brief 24-month assignments to the Family Law Court calendar, they will have few cases, if any, in which there are significant assets or complex financial issues. Given the circumstances and despite efforts to educate judges in trial presentations, even the most diligent, caring, and hard-working judge is ill equipped to make decisions that will profoundly impact your life and the lives of your children.

Our Arizona rules and our law provide different and effective means for resolving your issues without going to court, including mediation, arbitration, and other private settlement processes. This provides an opportunity for more time to hear complex issues, to have an expert in the disputed area, and to split issues into multiple settings. The best advice I give my family law clients is to explore all those alternatives. Leaving important decisions to a judge, who will do their best, but not have the time to thoughtfully consider complex and difficult issues, may not provide an optimum outcome. Additionally, they will not have the knowledge that the parties do and will never have to abide by their decisions for the rest of their and their children’s lives.

At the same time, if alternative dispute resolution is not viable, be fully prepared to go to court if necessary. Be prepared by having information necessary to make informed decisions. What does that mean? Know what Arizona law provides to you respective to rights concerning your children and your property. Know the marital community estate – its liabilities, and the value of each community asset. Be prepared by using calm, thoughtful, experienced, and well-informed advisors to give you realistic choices to make well-informed decisions.

Finally, it is critical to be focused on resolving issues, avoiding unnecessary confrontations, and adopting approaches that seek to engage the opposition in solving problems. Cooperation of all parties, and their buy-in to alternative dispute resolution, is needed to avoid going to court.

Trending Articles

Presenting The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2025

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is proud to present The Best Lawyers in Australia for 2025, marking the 17th consecutive year of Best Lawyers awards in Australia.

Australia flag over outline of country

Best Lawyers Expands 2024 Brazilian Awards

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is honored to announce the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in Brazil™ and the first edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Brazil™.

Image of Brazil city and water from sky

The Best Lawyers in Mexico Celebrates a Milestone Year

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is excited to announce the 15th edition of The Best Lawyers in Mexico™ and the second edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Mexico™ for 2024.

Sky view of Mexico city scape

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power

by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

Announcing The Best Lawyers in New Zealand™ 2025 Awards

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is announcing the 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in New Zealand for 2025, including individual Best Lawyers and "Lawyer of the Year" awards.

New Zealand flag over image of country outline

Presenting the 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide

by Best Lawyers

The 2024 Best Lawyers Family Law Legal Guide is now live and includes recognitions for all Best Lawyers family law awards. Read below and explore the legal guide.

Man entering home and hugging two children in doorway

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Japan™ 2025

by Best Lawyers

For a milestone 15th edition, Best Lawyers is proud to announce The Best Lawyers in Japan.

Japan flag over outline of country

The Best Lawyers in Singapore™ 2025 Edition

by Best Lawyers

For 2025, Best Lawyers presents the most esteemed awards for lawyers and law firms in Singapore.

Singapore flag over outline of country

Canada Makes First Foray Into AI Regulation

by Sara Collin

As Artificial Intelligence continues to rise in use and popularity, many countries are working to ensure proper regulation. Canada has just made its first foray into AI regulation.

People standing in front of large, green pixelated image of buildings

Commingling Assets

by Tamires M. Oliveira

Commingling alone does not automatically turn an otherwise immune asset into an asset subject to marital distribution as explained by one family law lawyer.

Toy house and figure of married couple standing on stacks of coins

How Much Is a Lawyer Consultation Fee?

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers breaks down the key differences between consultation and retainer fees when hiring an attorney, a crucial first step in the legal process.

Client consulting with lawyer wearing a suit

The Hague Convention and International Custody Battles

by Alexandra Goldstein

One family law lawyer explains how Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s celebrity divorce brings The Hague Convention treaty and international child custody battles into the spotlight.

Man and woman celebrities wearing black and standing for photo

Presenting the 2024 Best Lawyers Employment and Workers’ Compensation Legal Guide

by Best Lawyers

The 2024 Best Lawyers Employment and Workers' Compensation Legal Guide provides exclusive access to all Best Lawyers awards in related practice areas. Read below and explore the legal guide.

Illustration of several men and women in shades of orange and teal

New York Passes 9/11 Notice Act

by Gregory Sirico

Best Lawyers highlights the newly enacted 9/11 Notice Act, which seeks to find individuals eligible for medical care coverage under different federal programs.

Firefighter stands with their back turned with flames in the background

Filing For Divorce in North Carolina

by Melody J. King

Family law lawyer Melody King answers some of the most important questions individuals may have about filing for divorce in North Carolina.

Illustration of man and woman on paper that has been torn apart