Settlement & Divorce
Most divorce settle. In fact, roughly “95% of couples” reach divorce settlements outside of court. That may be because they successfully negotiated a resolution to a divorce litigation or had a mediated or collaborative divorce.
Read on to learn the potential benefits of settlement and how it works.
What is Settlement?
Let’s get down to basics. A settlement is an agreement to resolve a divorce. That means you and your spouse reach resolutions on some or all issues that must be divided in a divorce.
Generally, those are:
Your Divorce Lawyer’s Role in Settlement
Please read on for how your divorce attorney helps you and your spouse reach agreements on the outstanding issues in your divorce, depending on what method you use to divorce: mediation, collaborative divorce, or litigation.
Mediation & Settlement
In mediation, divorcing couples meet with a neutral mediator who guides their conversation and helps them engage in constructive dialog. If Freed Marcroft serves as your mediator, your mediator will be a lawyer with extensive divorce experience. However, your mediator will not act as you or your spouse’s attorney or advocate. Instead, the mediator helps spouses brainstorm and reach mutually beneficial agreements.
“Review counsel” is also an important role in mediation. Because a mediator is a neutral third party who cannot give individual legal advice or comment on the fairness of the agreements, spouses should each hire their own experienced, mediation-friendly divorce attorney to provide independent legal advice. The purpose of independent review counsel is not to start a conflict but to advocate for your best interests, needs, and concerns. This critical component will help ensure a fair and equitable outcome. Your review counsel will not typically be involved in the negotiations between you, your spouse, and the mediation. Instead, the review counsel provides you with legal advice about proposed settlements.
Collaborative Divorce & Settlement
In collaborative divorce, spouses meet with specially trained collaborative divorce attorneys and other professional members of the collaborative team. Collaborative attorneys help both parties negotiate and agree on the terms.
Litigation & Settlement
Any divorce where the spouses didn’t opt into either collaborative divorce or mediation is litigation. Most litigations ultimately settle out of court — some very early and some right before trial. Litigation can be either low conflict (the parties can reach agreements) or high conflict (the spouses are not able to get deals).
There are three main ways that resolutions are reached:
- Discussions between the spouses (aka “Kitchen Table Conversations“)
- Negotiation between the two divorce attorneys
- Conversations with the spouses and their lawyers present (via “Four Way Meetings” or “Pretrial Conferences.”
Read: Arbitration & Divorce
What Are the Downsides to Not Settling?
The downsides to high-conflict divorce litigation include the following:
- Financial cost
- Loss of time
- Pain to children, friends, and family
- Loss of privacy
- Lasting antagonism between you and your former spouse
- Loss of control over outcomes
Most people choose to negotiate and reach settlements in their divorce to avoid these issues and retain more control than they have if a judge makes the decisions.
Read: ADR & Divorce
What’s the Alternative to Divorce Settlement?
If spouses can’t reach out of court settlements, the judge has the final say instead of the divorcing couple. This happens at a divorce trial.
Read: What Is a Divorce Trial?
When Does a Divorce Settle?
This is very specific to each couple. Sometimes all issues in a divorce will resolve early on after initial discovery has been exchanged. In other cases, a particularly critical issue is resolved initially — such as who will live in the house during the divorce. The divorce doesn’t settle for other spouses until right before the trial. If you resolve all outstanding issues, the judge will finalize your divorce at an uncontested hearing instead of a trial.
Check out our Divorce Information and Facts for more information about Connecticut divorce and family law. If you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you with your divorce or Post Judgment issue, please get in touch with us here.