1. You remain in charge of the settlement instead of giving it over to a 3rd party decision maker.
Who knows the most about your relationship history and your family? The answer to this question is always the two parties involved in the dispute. A judicial officer will never understand your family the way you do. Clients often say, “I want my day in court,” and sometimes continue to insist on that when they could achieve a better and more satisfying outcome by negotiating in good faith.
2. You save the cost of having to go to court.
Even a very short hearing may be very expensive. Hearings in family law matters are seldom more than two days, but the cost to have an attorney appear in court is not the only cost to consider. The path to get to court is long, arduous, and requires significant legal work. Consider each step along the way an opportunity to resolve your matter through settlement. Try not to think of court as your goal. Remember that your ultimate goal is a clean resolution of the conflict so that you and your family can move forward.
3. You and your family are spared the emotional meat grinder of the legal process.
The cost of going to court is not only financial. While you may feel revved up and ready to fight, your energy might be better channeled into ways to avoid a contested court battle. You might meet with a divorce financial planner or try an Early Neutral Assessment. Reading a book on co-parenting or taking a level II parenting class are good ways to look to the future rather than focusing on the past or the pain you feel today. Contested disputes between parents take an emotional toll on children, so it is important to carefully consider alternatives. You may ultimately need to go to court to address the best interests of the children but is isn’t necessary nearly as often as people believe at the start of the case when they are emotional, angry, and fearful.
4. There is predictability about the outcome because the parties control it.
When you go to court, the judge or magistrate will decide your matter. You will not know the outcome in advance. Most people experience extreme stress with the uncertainty of going to a hearing. When you work towards a settlement, you have the opportunity to negotiate the details, confer with an attorney or expert, reject an offer or make a counter-offer, and ask for changes to an agreement before you sign it. You decide when you like the resolution enough to agree to it.
5. Parties who reach a settlement are much less likely to go to court in the future than those who litigate.
This is something to seriously consider. Even if you are fully prepared to battle now, there will very likely come a time in the future when you really want to move on with your life. Perhaps you already feel this desire to end the conflict, perhaps not. In any event, if you can reach an agreement once, you can likely do it again. Settlement agreements can be drafted to prevent future disputes and to provide a way to resolve any future conflict without going to court.