Reaching an agreement is typically the best case scenario for each party in a divorce or custody case. Of course, reaching an agreement may be more difficult said than done.
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Let The Judge Decide
The alternative to reaching an agreement is having the Judge decide via hearing or trial. Judges do their best to listen to the facts of the case, hear both sides of the argument, and apply the governing law to reach an informed decision. Being a Judge is a difficult job; it’s nearly impossible for a Judge to be informed of every detail of a case prior to their ruling. Judges do not always rule in a predictable way; sometimes it is difficult to know which way one will sway.
As a result, you are taking your chances with the outcome if you request a Judge to rule on the matter. When it comes to these sensitive and crucial issues, deciding to “take your chances” is very stressful. This is why I strongly encourage the parties to do everything in their power to work together to reach an agreement.
Tips for Reaching An Agreement in Your Divorce
Because reaching an agreement is usually the best option in divorce and family law case, here are some tips to help you and your former partner agree on difficult issues:
Agreement By Parties
I always encourage the parties to first try working together to reach an agreement. Plus, this is the most time and cost efficient route to take. I recommend clients speak with their attorney prior to any negotiation with their former partner. This is a critical step to help clients:
- talk through objectives,
- figure out what is most important to them,
- what is realistic,
- what kind of argument would hold up in court, and
- best negotiation strategies.
If this avenue does not work for the parties, I recommend having the parties attorneys attempt to reach an agreement.
Agreement By Attorneys
Attorneys are extremely effective in helping parties reach an agreement because of their significant experience with negotiation tactics. They usually know which battles are best to fight and which issues are best to let go. Attorneys also help take the emotion out of the issues, which is extremely helpful in getting the parties to see the bigger picture and put difficult matters into perspective.
Reach Agreement Through Mediation
Reaching an agreement with mediation can be very effective. Sometimes if the Judge believes it’s possible for parties to reach an agreement, he or she will order mandatory mediation for the parties and will not hear the case further until the parties have attempted mediation. Judges usually prefer parties come to an agreement themselves outside of the courtroom because it makes their job easier and usually presents a more favorable outcome for each side.
Mediation Through Cook County
If you have a pending case in Cook County, Illinois, going through mediation can be done for free through the county’s office. Keep in mind the list is backed up for several months. While it is not a fast process, it can be an effective one. Sometimes having enough time between the issue and the negotiation can aid parties in reaching an agreement because some of the emotional aspects of the issues have been removed or had time to settle in. This enables parties to focus on the main issues.
Parties are also able to hire private mediators to help them and their former partner work through issues to divide property, assets, etc. Private mediators are usually attorneys who hold special certifications with focused training. They typically bill their normal billable attorney rate and can have as many sessions as the parties find helpful.
Please note, a Mediator does not represent either party. A mediator works skillfully to help each party see and understand the position of the other side and help to find common ground in order to reach an agreement. Parties can bring their personal attorneys to the mediation to ensure their individual interests are being represented.
Using the Collaborative Law Process
Collaborative law is a great process for parties who want to really work together to reach an amicable settlement. This is done completely outside of the courtroom.
- Each party can have their own attorney represent their interests or have an attorney help them reach an agreement but who will not represent either parties’ specific interest.
- Sometimes parties work on this process together, come up with an agreement and merely enter it with the Judge on their own without an attorney representing them in court. This can make for an efficient and cost-effective process.
One of the biggest differences with the Collaborative law process is that it recognizes and allows for ways to resolve emotional issues. Often, these types of sensitive issues are extremely important to the parties but legally, these emotional issues cannot be addressed by the court. For example, courts will often not waste their time or the court resources to address issues disputes that revolving around furniture or pets. There can obviously be much sentimental value in memorabilia and beloved family pets. However, trial courts are required to follow direction from the higher courts as to what issues they have jurisdiction over.
Additional Advice to Help You Reach Agreement :
- Have realistic expectations
- Put things in perspective
- Agreements are formed through give-and-take
- Bring up issues at the right time – wait for emotions to settle
- Figure out what is most important to each party – what is fair and reasonable is different for everyone
- Think of all the stress and litigation costs you will save by reaching an agreement outside of the courtroom
If you are facing divorce or separated and wondering if an agreement is possible, seek advice from an experienced divorce lawyer. Contact Anderson & Boback today to speak with one of our family law attorneys about reaching an agreement in your divorce.