Whether it be at the beginning or during a divorce, settlement negotiations always seem to be a part of any divorce proceedings. It is therefore important to understand why settlement negotiations are so important, and what the benefits of agreeing to possibly settling a divorce between parties may be.
At the beginning of a divorce a party may feel strongly that settlement negotiations are off the table, however as the divorce proceedings progress, each parties’ needs may change and settlement negotiations may then play a vital role in possibly arriving at an amicable solution for both of the parties involved.
One of the most pertinent reasons for parties to try and reach settlement in any divorce proceeding is due to the costs of litigation. Although litigation in some instances is most definitely necessary, in some instances it will not be cost effective for either one or both of the parties.
Some litigation in divorce proceedings can run up to 4 years, meaning that each party will have to pay legal fees for 4 years. The big question that would have to be asked is if the parties are diluting their estates to fund the divorce proceedings.
Settlement negotiations can vary in time periods, however in our experience at the firm, settlement negotiations on average last for approximately 1 – 4 months. The costs associated in this is far less than litigating a divorce dispute.
As stated previously, in some instances litigating any divorce proceeding may just be necessary, but the parties should never shy away from possibly trying to resolve the dispute by way of negotiation
There is a large time difference in how long parties may take to reach settlement in a divorce dispute and how long it will take the parties to litigate the matter to finality.
On average, a divorce proceeding on an uncontested basis (where the parties entered into negotiations and were able to settle on all aspects of the divorce) the parties can be divorced within 6 – 8 weeks of signing a settlement agreement.
With litigation, this varies tremendously. Depending on the severity of the matter and what the Court would have to decide on, this means that it may take anything from 1 – 4 years, if not longer for a divorce to be finalized.
3. Mediation as an option
The Uniform Rules of Court have recently been amended to include that the parties must mediate any dispute before proceeding with litigation. This has brought about a significant change in the way litigants and parties to litigation view mediation.
This change in the Uniform Rules of Court provides parties and litigants with the opportunity to actively participate in the possible settlement of each individual matter.
In attending mediation, the parties will be assisted by an unbiased third party, known as the mediator. The mediator will actively assist the parties to possibly reach settlement. If the parties can reach a settlement, a settlement agreement will be signed, and the parties will be able to obtain a divorce much faster than proceeding with the litigation route.
If the parties, however, cannot reach settlement, the matter will then continue with litigation.
Considering settling any proceedings in Court is always a good idea and should be considered before any party proceeds with litigation. In reaching settlement, it would mean that both parties reach an equally satisfying agreement to any dispute that may be pending between them.