Certainty: Judges are not particularly predictable. If you do not negotiate, ultimately you will only have a day or two in front of the judge for a Final Trial. That limited amount of time is all you get to present almost everything about your life in the hopes the judge sees your case from your point of view, while the other side tries to do the same thing. With evidentiary objections and the limited time, it is a tremendous task for the judge to get the full picture. When you take your case to the Judge you are taking a risk, hoping the Judge will find in your favor. By removing the Judge from the equation and reaching an agreement between you and the other side you have certainty. You know the deal you reached is the deal you get.
Speed: Taking a case to trial requires discovery, which is the lengthy process of gather documents, taking depositions, and preparing materials for trial. Florida encourages Judges to conclude a case from start to finish in ONE YEAR. Some cases last longer than a year. If decisions are appealed, you could be in a divorce for years. If you are able to reach an agreement early in the process, you could be divorced and on with your life in just a few short months.
Cost: The cost of taking a case all the way to trial can be expensive. The more there is to fight about, the more there is to litigate. Attorney’s fees and court costs are a major incentive to resolve a case through agreement. If the parties can reach an agreement quickly, they can avoid a lot of unnecessary litigation costs.
Peace of Mind: Divorce is a stressful period of time for every individual. The longer it goes on the more stressful it can get. No dollar figure can be assigned to the tremendous value there is in concluding the process quickly. If the parties can reach an agreement, they will be able to return to peace much sooner. Further, if the parties agreed to the resolution, then they are more likely to cooperate and follow its terms (It was their idea).
Compromise: In order to reach an agreement, often BOTH parties will have to make compromises. Mediators are the individuals who help parties reach an agreement; an old slogan was, “if both parties leave unhappy, I have done my job.” It is a joke of course, but it has its merits. What they mean is, often both parties will have to give up something to get what they want and at the end of the day he/she may not be happy with the sacrifice he/she made. Some parties might regret signing the agreement, but once it’s signed, absent very rare circumstances, it’s enforceable and too late to make any changes. Parties are encouraged to very carefully considering the compromises they are making before signing; if you can’t live with the compromise the only option is to fight for what you believe and take it to the Judge.
Cost: Yes, cost can be a Pro and a Con. Sometimes parties will think they have an agreement and say they want to settle out of court, then come to find after spending hundreds on drafts between their attorneys they weren’t even close to an agreement. Sadly, once the parties have come to this realization, now they have to go file with the court and all the fees they spend trying to negotiate could have been saved for the actual case.
Harder to change later: Sometimes parties will reach agreements outside the scope of what the court would ordinarily do. Then, something happens, and the deal is no longer beneficial to one party, and he/she wants to File a Petition to Change it. The Court may not be so inclined to investigate why the parties reached the agreement they did to now try and modify it based on some change in circumstance. You may be stuck with the original agreement.
If you or someone you know is facing a family law matter that needs help, please do not hesitate to contact Family First Legal Group today!