When most people think about the divorce process, they think of the large team of lawyers storming into the courtroom. Despite what people may think, around 95% of divorces actually settle without the need to go to trial and have extensive litigation. When you begin the process or getting a divorce, you may question how settlement can even be a possibility. Maybe you and your spouse are currently not on good terms or the two of you just can’t seem to agree on anything. However, the statistics do not lie, no matter how shocking it may sound.
When spouses in the middle of the divorce process make the decision to enter into a settlement, they sign what is called a Marital Settlement Agreement. See Martial Settlement Agreement. A Marital Settlement Agreement is a written agreement, signed by both parties, that outlines the terms of their divorce. The Marital Settlement Agreement typically includes the terms of many issues which include custody and parenting, alimony, assets, and more. The Florida courts have found marital settlement agreements to be legally binding as any other contract in law. See Feliciano v. Munoz-Feliciano, 190 So. 3d 232, 234 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016); Reilly v. Reilly, 94 So.3d 693, 696 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).
Once you understand the advantages of settling your divorce, the reasons why the majority of spouses settle will become clearer. Some of these advantages are:
Saving money – Throughout the divorce process, you pay for all the time your lawyer spends on your case. This includes preparing for trial and court hearings. Paying for your attorney to attend trial and conduct trial prep can be lengthy. To prepare for a trial, court costs, attorney’s fees and other expenses add up rather quickly. When looking at a litigation budget for a divorce trial, it is not uncommon to have a price tag of five (5) or even six (6) digits. The cost for executing a settlement agreement will be significantly less than the cost of going to trial and that is in almost 100% of the scenarios.
Time – As mentioned previously, trial can be a lengthy process, especially in a divorce where there are typically many different issues to present a case on. Lawyer’s need many months to prepare for the trial and just waiting for an open trial date on the judge’s calendar can delay the process by a few months and even longer if your case needs more than one (1) day for trial.
Privacy – All hearings and almost all documents in the family court are public record unless one or both of the spouses take action to protect it and keep it confidential. Otherwise, all financial and personal information that is discussed or presented during the divorce process are available for anyone in the public to see. This may be a problem for spouses who are business owners or others who wish to live a private life, or even just someone who does not want their personal information public for anyone to see.
Control – At trial for a dissolution of marriage, a judge will use their best judgment to have an outcome that is just and impartial for both parties to the divorce. No one has a better understanding of what arrangement will work best for you other than you. When making the usually tough decision to enter into a settlement, you and your spouse may have created solutions that the court may not think of and ones that are best for you and your specific situation.
Even if your circumstances are such that time and money are not an issue, having a say in your future without someone else mandating how your life will be after your divorce is final should carry some weight toward encouraging a settlement on both sides of the divorce.
If you or someone you know is seeking advice on divorce matters, you can speak with one of our family law attorneys at the Yaffa Family Law Group at 561-276-3880 or visit our website at www.yaffafamilylawgroup.com to schedule your confidential complimentary consultation.