Most parties desire to settle their divorce or family law matter. Most do not want to end up putting their case in the hands of a judge at trial.
At the same time, settlement is hard for most parties. The truth is that if settlement was easy, most would not be going through a divorce or family law matter in the first place.
When a case is filed in court, most judges want to have the case concluded in a certain length of time. Some courts may eye a tentative one-year deadline. In other courts, the length of time can vary significantly.
The trouble for many litigants is they might not get a clear idea about what a judge may or may not do until the day of trial. This can lead to many parties making last second deals to settle to avoid a trial.
The problem with settling on the courthouse steps in divorce or family law matters is that many later come to regret the settlement. This can result in the parties litigating another round on a motion to modify or motion for contempt.
Last second deals also can have ambiguities and loopholes in them. This can result in disputes and more litigation because the settlement is half-baked versus being well thought-out.
Instead of a last second deal on the courthouse steps, parties should think about ways to settle in advance where they are not figuratively under the gun. Some options could be mediation or collaborative law.
Mediation generally has better results when it takes place prior to the case being filed. Collaborative law always takes place before the case was filed.
If these are not options, completing discovery as quickly as possible can help. This can allow settlement offers to be sent much quicker than if important information is still unknown. It can also mean setting up settlement meetings between the attorneys and the parties.
Ultimately, while many cases settle on the courthouse steps, it is best to avoid this if possible. The best settlement deals are put in place where parties are not rushed into it.