Should You Settle Your Divorce Out of Court?

Written by Jonathan Breeden

June 19, 2021

How do you want your divorce to end? You could resolve things with a court verdict or a settlement between you and your former spouse.

Nearly all divorce cases end with a settlement agreement, and it is typically the less stressful way to go. But negotiating a resolution that everyone can live with can be challenging. Plus, certain factors will make going to court more likely.

Here are some things to think about if you’re trying to keep your divorce out of the courtroom.

What’s the Alternative?

Few divorces go to trial, and that’s a good thing. Unless your spouse is being unreasonable, dishonest, or trying to manipulate you to accept an unfair settlement, you should make a good faith effort to be flexible and negotiate a settlement agreement. Both sides need to honestly communicate their needs and work with each other to meet as many of those needs as possible.

Negotiation is not to be taken lightly or used to try to impose your will on your spouse. Unsuccessful negotiations mean issues will be resolved at a trial. It’s a very stressful, time-consuming, expensive process where you give up control over your divorce’s outcome and hand it over to the judge or jury. These total strangers could make decisions that may impact you for the rest of your life and the lives of your children.

What Does a Settlement Agreement Need to Cover?

A divorce settlement must address all the issues you face, including:

Often parties will start by negotiating agreements on less divisive issues. This creates mutual trust, openness, and momentum to take on tougher challenges. If some but not all disagreements are resolved, a trial could handle just the topics the two can’t agree on.

Who Proposes What?

Either side can propose settlement terms. Successful negotiation can be like a tennis match where proposals go back and forth, but this isn’t a game, and the goal should be a win for both sides. Counter-offers shouldn’t be exchanged to drag out the process but to bring it to a close.

Usually, concessions by one side on one issue are meant to get what’s wanted on a different issue. One party may agree to more generous property distribution in exchange for paying less or no alimony.

How Long Will I Have to Decide?

These agreements can impact the parties and their children for years, maybe even decades, depending on the situation. They shouldn’t be rushed because so much is at stake. But they shouldn’t take forever either. Making these decisions can be stressful, and some people want to delay or avoid that stress by putting them off. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Often deadlines for decisions are dates when motions or information must be filed with the court. You may face a situation where an agreement must be reached, or you will commit to spending more time, energy, and money on litigation. You must have all the relevant facts, and we will advise you of the law and suggest what will work well for you, but you ultimately will make the decisions.

What to Consider Before Agreeing

It comes down to whether you can live with the agreement. Does it, overall, meet your needs and those of your children? Look at it as if you were a total stranger. Would such a person, given your situation, think it’s reasonable for both sides? As time goes on, if some parts don’t work or the situation changes, the agreement can be amended. Don’t demand perfection, but don’t accept a deal that unfairly puts you at a disadvantage given the facts and North Carolina law.

Can We Handle Divorce Without Lawyers?

Many people wonder if they can get by without a lawyer’s help. We answer this question in the video below:

Breeden Law Office Can Help

Negotiation is part of your divorce attorney’s job. They spend years and build relationships with other lawyers to work out arraignments that are as fair as possible to the parties involved.

Negotiations don’t take place in a vacuum. They’re bounded by your case’s facts and the law. Attorney Breeden will know your situation and how a judge may apply the law in your case. We will propose a resolution that serves your interests based on the facts and law. We won’t let your spouse or attorney get away with proposals not based on reality or state law.

You’ll make the decisions shaping the agreement. We will put together a negotiation strategy that will emphasize your case’s strengths, put them into action, and adjust it when necessary. We’ll be there to advise you whether what’s on the table is fair and reasonable, what your options are, and suggest the direction you should take.

Contact a North Carolina Divorce Attorney

Negotiation is part of the divorce process. It’s not to be feared, and we’ll be with you every step of the way. The Breeden Law Office will do everything we can so you get the best possible agreement for you and your children.

To discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer, call us at (919) 661-4970 or contact us online today.


Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden