There are many ways to resolve a family matter, with settlement being but one. Statistically, most cases settle. Some are settlement-headed from the start, while others settle during litigation.
What is a settlement? A settlement is an agreement between two people that resolves disputed issues. It may be a written agreement, a court order, or a transcription of a verbal recording. Settlement can be of some issues (so, a partial agreement) or of all the issues (so, a global agreement). Settlement can resolve short-term or temporary issues (so, an interim agreement) or be a final settlement. It depends on you and your family’s needs. Settlement can be accomplished through negotiation, mediation, or the collaborative process.
Why is settlement valuable? Because it gives you control over the outcome. A settlement only happens if both people choose to accept the settlement. Most importantly, it gives you options that are unavailable in court. Options are empowering because they can be customized to you and your family. Options invite creative solutions that go beyond the limitations of what a court can do to meet your needs and your family’s. Settlement is future focused – resolving issues now for a better future. In contrast, litigation is backward looking – looking at the past to predict the future, with far fewer options.
What do you gain from settlement? Certainty of the outcome because it is one you, together with the other person, choose. Settlements can be accomplished faster and at a lower cost (financially, as well as time-wise and emotionally) than contested litigation. If you and your spouse do not have minor children in common, you can seek an immediate divorce – on your own timing and without a 12-month waiting period – with a Mutual Consent divorce.
Why involve an attorney in settlement? To understand the law, your rights, to draft an agreement, and to understand the settlement terms. I strive to help my clients settle their case at the earliest opportunity when my client has enough information, and so is ready, to make educated settlement decisions.
When to involve an attorney in settlement? It depends on your needs. Certainly before signing or accepting an agreement. Ideally, before you start the settlement process – to educate yourself and develop a plan for when to involve an attorney as the settlement process unfolds. This can be customized to you and your needs – whether representation throughout, as-needed consultation and advice, or agreement drafting and review.
Settlement is a powerful tool for creative problem solving with the goal of protecting what matters to you most – your family and your future.