Any good matrimonial attorney will always encourage a client to settle their
contested divorce case if the terms are great. Clients should also be encouraged to settle
their case if the terms are fair. But what about if you think the terms
are not quite right or exactly what you wanted?
The pros of a settlement are that you have a guaranteed result. No more
guessing what the judge will actually decide. The legal fees are contained
without further great expense of a trial. The judge in writing a decision
will never go into as much detail as a fully
negotiated settlement agreement between the parties. The judge's
parenting schedule will not have as much detail as an agreement written by the two attorneys.
division of property should follow the general norms of divorce litigation, however where there
are substantial differences of opinion as to value or how to distribute
or the percentage, again a negotiated settlement locks all of that up
with detailed provisions. Finally, as most judges will say, nobody knows
your situation and family as well as the two clients. When it is all over
the judge goes on to the next case, but the parties have to live with
the decision, good or bad.
In my opinion, the only reason not to settle is if the terms are so lopsided
that you cannot agree to the result. Minor variations will often occur,
but if you take a step back and look at the big picture are you receiving
what is reasonably fair. Often I will suggest that clients not look at
what the other side is getting but look at what they are receiving. Everybody's
situation is different, however trials will only make the anger last longer.
Things that are said during a trial cannot be taken back. Secrets revealed
and accusations made are remembered. If the clients have children, they
will have to interact for many more years and the hurt will take much
longer to subside. Nobody should agree to a bad deal. However, sometimes,
financially clients can no longer afford the cost of litigation and so
compromises must be made to bring it to an end.