Settlement & Divorce
Roughly “95% of couples” resolve their divorces 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. What that means is that you and your spouse reach resolutions on some or all of the issues that need to be divided in a divorce.
Generally, those are:
Your Divorce Lawyer’s Role in Settlement
Read on for how your divorce attorney helps you and your spouse reach agreements on the outstanding issues in your divorce depends on what method you are using 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 a 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 having independent review counsel is not to start conflict, but to be an advocate focused on your best interests, needs, and concerns, a key component that will help ensure a fair and equitable outcome. Your review counsel will not typically be involved in the negotiations — that happens between you, your spouse, and the mediation. Rather, 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-in to either collaborative divorce or mediation is a litigation. The vast majority of litigations ultimately settle out of court — some very early on and some right before trial. Litigation can be either low conflict (the parties are able to reach agreements) or high conflict (the spouses are not able to reach agreements).
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“)
What Are the Downsides to Not Settling?
The downsides to high conflict divorce litigation include:
- 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 divorced in order to avoid these issues and retain more control than they have if a judge makes the decisions.
What’s the Alternative to Settling Your Divorce?
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.
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, there is a distinct critical issue that is resolved initially — such as who is going to live in the house during the divorce. For other spouses, the divorce doesn’t settle until right before trial. If you resolve all outstanding issues, the judge will finalize your divorce at an uncontested hearing instead of a trial.
For more information about Connecticut divorce and family law, check out our Divorce Information and Facts.