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Connect with us. Drafting a Settlement Agreement Checklist Federal Posted on Settlement Negotiations Make preparation for a settlement from the start of the case. To avoid the loss of documents potentially relevant to settlement agreement negotiations, send a retention of documents notice also known as a litigation hold letter to all appropriate parties as soon as possible.
Assess the potential for prevailing in the underlying court case. Always weigh the costs versus the benefits of litigating rather than settling. For more on timing, see Stages of Litigation below. You should discuss with your client their reasons for settling and how those reasons may play into the negotiations. At the outset of settlement negotiations, list all individuals and entities—both for the plaintiff and the defendant—that the agreement will cover.
List all claims your adversary may legally release via settlement. Verify the agreement covers these claims. Review the ethical obligations for settlement negotiations that are detailed in: Model Rule of Professional Conduct 4. With little certainty as to the outcome at this stage, both parties face different types of pressures, which may lead to a settlement.
For the plaintiff, the pressures include costs and statutes of limitations. For the defendant, they include potential publicity and costs. The defendant should make the motion where appropriate to incentivize the plaintiff to settle. Whether or not the defendant wins, the plaintiff will learn that litigation will, in all likelihood, be cumbersome, costly, and long.
This can be a motivating factor to settle sooner rather than later. If the plaintiff is not familiar with litigation, they may be more willing to settle after this first real encounter with the litigation process. You do not want to end up saddled with debts while your ex is relatively payment-free, and this is a common risk when you do not have the guidance of a divorce attorney.
California has specific laws regarding issues in a divorce. If the court receives your settlement agreement and finds that it is not in line with California law, the judge can reject the settlement. This can cause significant delays in the process. Some issues the court might have with your settlement include:.
Any of the above — among other issues — can lead a judge to reject your settlement agreement, and you cannot have your divorce finalized until you have sufficiently resolved all matters. If your settlement agreement is not accepted, you should contact a divorce lawyer right away for assistance. However, it will save you time, money, and energy if you have the guidance of the right lawyer from the start instead of waiting until your settlement was rejected by the court.
When you read a legal contract, it can include legal language that is difficult for non-lawyers to fully understand. While such language might seem superfluous, certain terms are important to fully express the agreement that you reached with your spouse. While you might verbally agree on certain terms, clearly expressing those terms in writing is another story. It is best to have a legal professional who regularly writes settlement agreements handling your agreement.
A lawyer will know what type of language is needed to ensure that the terms of your agreement are properly expressed. Even if you and your spouse agree on settlement terms from the start, it is still always wise to consult with a divorce attorney. Too many people do not fully understand their rights under the law, and it is possible to lose out on assets, property, and support that they deserve. Once an outcome is in place, it can be difficult to change it, so you want to ensure that all settlement negotiations are conducted with full knowledge of your rights.
Even if you wrote your own settlement agreement, it is important to have a lawyer review it before you submit it to the court. An attorney can identify possible issues that you can address before filing it, which can save resources and avoid delays in your divorce process. While you can write a settlement on your own, it is not recommended that you do so.
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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