Attorney-Negotiated Divorce Settlement

Sometimes spouses simply can’t work out their divorce settlement on their own. Difficult legal issues, financing concerns, and hard feelings can interfere with your ability to resolve your issues quickly or in a way third parties (like banks and retirement account holders) will understand or accept. The good news is that even after the complaint for divorce has been filed, there is still a chance that an attorney-negotiated divorce settlement can help you avoid trial.

Hiring a Negotiation Attorney Ahead of Divorce in Michigan

Just because you hire a divorce attorney doesn’t mean you are headed to trial. Sometimes you can negotiate what you can, and hire attorneys to sort out the rest. The attorneys will negotiate with each other, speaking to you and your spouse individually or at a four-way meeting, to sort out the details of any complicated or high-tension issues you were unable to resolve on your own. This is similar to a mediated divorce or attorney-assisted mediation, except that there is not a neutral facilitator to guide your negotiations.

Filing a Complaint Doesn’t End Your Chances for a Divorce Settlement

Your attorney’s negotiations won’t end when one party files a complaint for divorce. In fact, sometimes the non-filing spouse won’t even know that a divorce is coming until they have been served with the court papers.

Once the formal litigation begins, your divorce case will get more expensive. You and your attorney may need to participate in Friend of the Court investigations and settlement meetings, attend pre-trial motion hearings, and complete discovery into the facts of your case. You may even need to hire experts to perform a custody evaluation, assess the value of your business or home, or address mental or physical health concerns related to custody and support.

However, you can still enter into a divorce settlement up until the day of your divorce trial. Less than 5 percent of divorce cases end in trial. In almost every case, spouses and their attorneys are able to work out a divorce settlement and avoid putting their property and custody issues in the hands of the court. Many high-conflict cases are negotiated down to the wire in the hopes of avoiding the need to go through trial.

Pros and Cons to an Attorney Negotiated Divorce Settlement Agreement

There is no one right divorce process for every case. Whether entering an attorney negotiated divorce settlement agreement is the right choice for you will depend on your needs, your spouse’s behavior, and the issues involved in your case. Attorney negotiated settlements also need not be an all or nothing approach and can be combined with other types of dispute resolution, like mediation.

Advantages of an Attorney-Negotiated Settlement

  • Your attorney is there to give you advice at every stage of negotiations
  • Clients who worry about standing up for themselves have an attorney to speak for them
  • Attorneys can provide guidance on complicated legal issues and help set expectations
  • An attorney-negotiated settlement can account for unexpected events you and your spouse had not considered
  • Third parties, such as banks and financial advisors, can be consulted to make certain the judgment and related orders meet their requirements
  • Working through attorneys can allow settlement when direct communication (with or without a neutral mediator) is ineffective or unsafe
  • You avoid the expense of trial
  • Your personal affairs remain private and out of the court record
  • You and your spouse ultimately control the resolution
  • The divorce settlement agreement can remain confidential

When Attorney-Negotiated Settlement May Not be the Best Divorce Process for You

  • When you and your spouse can resolve your issues, alone or with the help of a mediator
  • If you and your spouse are committed to avoiding high-conflict litigation, a collaborative model may be better
  • When you can’t afford the legal fees for two attorneys throughout the litigation process
  • If you believe one spouse’s attorney may have influenced negotiations or increased hostility
  • If you are asked to compromise more than you are able during negotiations

Selecting the Best Divorce Process for You

At NSSSB, our divorce attorneys are always open to an attorney-negotiated settlement, before or after formal litigation begins. Our Southeast Michigan family law attorneys are happy to review your case and help you consider the best divorce process for your family. We can also guide you through the sometimes-difficult traditional divorce process, negotiating with your spouse’s lawyer to reach a resolution even in the final days before trial. Click here to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.