How Many Divorce Cases Actually Go to Trial?

February 4, 2020 | J. Benjamin Stevens | Share:

If you’re thinking about filing for divorce in South Carolina, you may be interested to learn more about how the process will unfold. Though most people think that divorce involves spending a lot of time in front of a judge, with lawyers arguing and witnesses testifying, the reality is far different. Instead of lengthy and contentious litigation, most divorces get resolved out of court.

How common is trial?

Though television and movies often focus on dramatic court battles, in practice, most of the work in a divorce case is handled in an office building rather than a courthouse. Though it may not make for exciting entertainment, lawyers and mediators are far more likely to be involved in resolving divorce cases than a judge. Keep reading to find out how many divorce cases actually go to trial.

Why do some couples avoid trial?

So why do so few divorce cases end up being tried? Court battles are not only lengthy and exhausting, but also expensive. Hiring lawyers to sit in court for hours at a time, not to mention the days or weeks of prep time, can cost a small fortune. Court is also, by its very nature, an adversarial setting. This means it is far more likely to be confrontational and uncomfortable than working things out privately.

How often do cases settle?

So what do the numbers say? Though there is no definitive answer about how many divorce cases go to trial, the range of numbers makes it clear that only a tiny minority are ever decided by a judge. Estimates on the percentage of cases that get tried range from  2 percent by some experts, to 5 percent by CBS, to 7 percent according a Massachusetts survey to 10 percent by an expert from California. These numbers mean that, at worst, 9 out of every 10 divorces get resolved outside of Court, which are good odds for those worried about the expense of trial.

Source: “The Divorce Process,” by Rome Neal, published at

Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or to schedule an initial consultation.



Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina.  His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.

Click here to learn more about Ben »»








Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 15 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit