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Tips for Surviving Settlement Talks

The divorce process legally ends a marriage and necessarily creates agreements about spousal support, division of assets and child custody if there are children. Many couples can make decisions themselves or with the aid of an attorney or mediator. However, if you are not lucky enough to be half of one of those couples, your case will continue toward trial and possibly settlement.

Most cases flowing through the criminal justice system settle short of trial. Civil divorce litigation is no different. What does it mean to “settle on the courthouse steps,” and what do you need to do when the date of your trial approaches and settlement proposals begin flying back and forth?  Consider the following:

  • Before your trial, the judge is likely to hold a pretrial conference to determine whether there are issues that can be settled. Although you have arrived at the courthouse prepared for trial, events may take a sharp turn toward settlement during the pretrial conference. You may spend time waiting nearby or in a conference room.
  • While your attorney is tasked with representing your interests and relaying settlement offers to you from the other party, your job is to keep in mind your personal divorce and custody objectives. Even with good legal counsel, parties sometimes settle for inappropriate arrangements or conditions simply because they are stressed from proceedings that have stretched out for months or years.
  • Talk to your attorney about the possibility of settlement prior to the trial date. Ask how it looks, what you might need to decide, what concessions might be appropriate and which are not. Make sure you think about what you agree to — you and your children will have to live with your decision.

Strong legal counsel is important during settlement conferences. If you are considering or already involved in a divorce, we offer aggressive legal protection of your rights throughout the process.

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