Out of Court Divorce Settlement
Many people wonder, "Can you settle a divorce without going to court?" Fortunately, the answer is a resounding "yes!" The court system is there to resolve differences. However, using the court system is often long, cumbersome, and expensive. Often, families can work together and craft better solutions without all the added hassle of going to court.
Below, learn about out-of-court divorce settlements and what they mean for your divorce case.
Settle a Divorce Out of Court or Go to Court?
If you and your spouse do not agree on everything in your divorce, the process goes something like this:
- One spouse files a petition with the local court asking for a divorce.
- The other spouse is legally served with the documents and frantically hires an attorney to file an answer.
- The lawyer files a flurry of motions about how certain expenses, child custody, and other matters should be handled before the trial date.
- The parties spend months requesting information and evidence from each other.
- Other professionals like guardians ad litem, school personnel, social workers, or child custody evaluators may get involved in the process, interviewing the children and everyone who comes in contact with them.
- One or more court dates are scheduled months away.
- The parties lob accusations at each other.
- Thousands and thousands of dollars are spent.
- The court makes a final decision that neither spouse is happy with
- The parties spend a few more years (and thousands of dollars more) appealing the case or seeking post-judgment relief.
In contrast to this contentious and costly process, an out-of-court divorce settlement can result in:
- Less animosity
- Spouses working together toward a common goal
- An atmosphere of cooperation
- Solutions that are crafted specifically for this family
- More adherence to the agreement since the parties crafted it.
- Cost and time savings
- A faster resolution
Contents of Your Out of Court Divorce Settlement
If you're determined to settle your case out of divorce, be sure that you address the following issues:
- Property and debt division, including how expenses should be handled before and after the divorce
- Child custody, including which parent the children will primarily live with, who should make important decisions about the children, and what to include in the parenting plan
- Alimony, including whether alimony should be awarded, to whom, in what amount, and for how long
- Child support, including the allocation of any additional expenses like extracurricular activities or medical expenses
A collaborative divorce lawyer or mediator can help you understand these issues and your options.
FAQs About Out of Court Divorce Settlements
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about out of court divorce settlements:
Can you settle divorce out of court?
Yes! While you will still need to file a petition with the court and receive a divorce decree from the court, you and your spouse can work out your agreement and simply ask the court to confirm it.
How to settle a divorce out of court?
There are a few different ways you can keep your divorce out of court:
- Collaborative divorce – In collaborative divorce, the spouses are represented by lawyers who work together toward the mutual goal of resolution. They have no intent to go to court if you and your spouse cannot amicably resolve your case and resign if you do. Their singular focus is a mutual, collaborative divorce and helping you reach a resolution and move on with your lives.
- Mediation – In mediation, a third-party neutral called a mediator, helps the parties realize the advantages of settling their divorce out of court. They use effective communication skills and an unbiased approach to encourage the parties to resolve their legal issues.
- Working with a lawyer – A spouse can still choose to work with a lawyer while ultimately settling their case out of court. Because there is an inherent conflict in representing both parties involved in a divorce, a lawyer can only represent one of the spouses. Their job is to advise their client of their rights and help guide them toward the best solution for their case.
What percentage of divorces are settled out of court?
The majority of divorces are settled out of court. Statistics show that 90 to 95% of divorces are settled out of court.
Are lawyers involved when a divorce is settled out of court?
This is up to the spouses who are getting a divorce. Some divorcing couples agree out of court and do not need the help of lawyers. Instead, they may use mediation in which the mediator is a third-party neutral who can provide them with legal information but does not push them toward any particular outcome. In other cases, one or both spouses may hire their lawyer to prepare divorce documents or settlement agreements. Lawyers can help ensure that the spouses understand the legal implications of their decisions during the divorce process and that the proper rules are followed to complete the divorce process.
How do you divorce if you are out of state and can't get to court?
Mediation is a good option for people who live in different states because it allows the non-resident spouse to still participate in the divorce process without attending court. The mediator can explain how much of the divorce can be settled out of court and submit the court documents to the court.
How a Florida Family Lawyer and Mediator Can Help
If you are interested in seeking an out-of-court divorce settlement, a family lawyer can explain your rights and options. Carolann Mazza can help you file the necessary paperwork and work with you to craft a settlement agreement that is fair to you and your spouse. She also serves as a mediator when the parties want to work together to reach solutions aligned with their goals. She can explain how an out-of-court settlement can best serve the needs of you and your family. Contact her today to learn more.