To Settle Or Not: That Is The Divorce Question

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. The judge's 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.