Divorce cases and trial – do you want to roll the dice?

If you are in the divorce process, you are probably wondering one of these four thoughts:


  1. My case just started, what is the percentage chance my divorce case will go to trial?
  2. My case is taking forever, what are the odds of ever finishing this thing?
  3. My ex is intentionally dragging this case on, what are the chances that I’ll end up in trial?
  4. My ex has not responded to our petition, but I know he’s been served.  When will my case be over with if he never responds?


If you thought King County divorce cases were more likely to go to trial than any other type of civil case, guess what, you’re right!  The chances a divorce case goes to trial are the highest of all chances for all types of cases in King County Superior Court, even adult criminal cases.  Historically, King County civil cases have the lowest trial rate of 1%.  During the first quarter of 2014, 57 civil cases went to verdict (this means the judge or jury issued a decision).  Divorce cases had a 4.2% chance of going to trial in the first of of 2014.  Out of 1,933 cases that were finalized in the first quarter of 2014, 81 went to trial. In addition to a higher chance of going to trial, divorce cases also have the second highest settlement rate.  Settlement means that the parties agreed to a final resolution without going to trial.  In King County Superior Court, 86.3% of divorce cases were settled.  The only type of cases that settle at a higher rate are adoption cases, but those should have a near 100% rate of settlement (they do).  For the most part, all counties in Washington State have similar numbers to King County with one big exception: Lincoln County.


Why did my attorney claim that divorce cases are rare?


Relatively speaking, they are rare.  4.2% isn’t a whole heck of a lot in terms of overall number of cases when you look at the grand scheme of things.  But, if you sort it by attorney (you can’t), there are some attorneys who never go to trial and a few that go to trial all the time.  Whether fortunate or unfortunate, the attorneys at our firm find ourselves in the trial camp.  But that’s just because we tend to deal with cases that are more litigation intensive that most divorce attorneys.  In other words, we go to court.


The fact that divorce cases have a trial rate four (4) times higher than general civil cases just points to the acrimonious nature of people who are divorcing.  This stuff just brings out the worst in people.  Conversely, criminals going through the criminal court system tend to be seen on their best behavior.  It’s just not that way here.  People going through the court system for divorce are everyday people seen at their absolute worst.  Some people engage in absolutely horrific behavior while in the divorce process.  And I’m not just talking about the clients.  Some weak minded attorneys will take on the persona of their client and behave the same way their client does.  Those attorneys tend to lose by the way.  Clients act that way because they can’t separate their emotions out of the process.  If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  Let me use an analogy to tell you why.  Divorce is like the Game of Thrones when Tyrion finds his ex-lover calling his dad “my Lion”.  He just lost it and then (well, I won’t spoil it for you).  I see this behavior every single day which is why the smart clients hire a lawyer, because they knew deep down that they can’t stop themselves and control their own emotions.


If’ you’d like someone to review your divorce case, call our office by using the number in the top right hand corner of the screen to setup an appointment.  You’ll speak with a qualified representative of our firm who will help you decide if a consultation is right for you.

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