Should you try to settle your divorce case? Yes. Why?
Most importantly, you can control the outcome. You won’t get everything you want through negotiation. You will need to be prepared to compromise. However, you, and more importantly, your family, will not be at the mercy of a judge who only has a few hours or a few days to learn everything about your family to make a decision that will affect your family forever.
You know your family best. If you are able to negotiate terms to which you can agree, you should do your best to come to an agreement.
Second, the expense of litigating a divorce case to a trial, and potentially an appeal, can be huge. A large part of a divorce involves dividing marital assets. Paying for both parties’ attorneys to litigate a case to the bitter end can deprive the family of funds that could otherwise pay for education for the children, a new home, or go toward retirement savings.
What does a settlement mean?
A settlement requires a written agreement resolving all the issues arising out of the marriage that is signed by both parties, or memorialized in some other way and affirmed by both parties.
When can you settle?
A settlement can happen at any time, i.e., before you separate, after you separate but before litigation is initiated, and any time litigation is initiated up until a final decision is rendered by the court.
Can anyone help you settle?
An attorney can help you prepare an agreement, review an agreement prepared by someone else, discuss the issues that the agreement should address, and answer any questions you have. An attorney in Maryland can only represent one party. An attorney in Maryland cannot represent both parties. If your spouse has an attorney, it would be wise to consider retaining your own attorney.
A mediator can also help you settle. A mediator is a neutral, third party who helps the parties reach an agreement. The mediator does not make decisions about your case or give you legal advice. The mediator works with both parties, and potentially their attorneys, to try to reach an agreement. The mediator may be a retired judge, a family law attorney, or a trained mediator who is not an attorney. The goal of mediation is to arrive at an agreement.
What happens once you have an agreement?
Once there is an agreement, if there are grounds for divorce, one party files a complaint for absolute, uncontested divorce. The other party is served and, in most cases, files an answer admitting that everything is settled. The parties ask the court to schedule an uncontested divorce hearing. The legal grounds upon which you are relying to seek a divorce dictate who must attend the hearing and what evidence you must present to the court. When the court enters the judgment of divorce, you are divorced.
If you are looking for a divorce attorney you may contact me for a consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-507-1718
ABOUT KATE MCQUEEN
Catherine H. “Kate” McQueen is a family lawyer and principal in Offit Kurman’s Bethesda office and is licensed to practice in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Ms. McQueen focuses her practice on the many legal issues that impact families, including all the issues arising out of a divorce, such as custody, child support, alimony, and other financial and property issues. She also has extensive experience in guardianship matters for children and incapacitated adults, including assisting clients in petitioning for guardianship, serving as court-appointed counsel for alleged disabled persons, and serving as court-appointed guardian for individuals when their family members or friends are unwilling or unable to do so.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
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