In Virginia Divorce cases, we work hard with our clients to attempt to resolve each case by settling out of court.
Believe it or not, in our experience, most cases are resolved before Court. Why is that?
- Because it is almost always in everyone’s best interest to finalize a case as quickly as possible.
- The parties save money and time, and shield themselves from unnecessary emotional turmoil that naturally comes from battling things out in a courtroom.
- If you have children, it is even more important to reach a resolution; the longer litigation lingers, the more your children will get dragged into the middle.
Suffice it to say, you should strongly consider an out of court settlement, provided the terms are reasonable and equitable. How do you decide when a settlement offer is reasonable and fair? Great question. The answer depends on the facts of your case. This is one area where your attorney’s experience will play a significant role.
Communication directly between Attorneys
Perhaps the most common avenue to a settlement is the correspondence between the attorneys who represent the respective spouses. Many cases have very few contested issues, making it relatively simple for the attorneys to help the parties resolve the case after just a few phone calls, emails or letters back and forth. If the issues haven’t been resolved, or at least narrowed, after a few exchanges, it is probably time to consider other settlement methods.
A settlement conference is a face-to-face meeting between the parties and their attorneys to allow the parties to converse with each other about their respective positions. Settlement conferences are certainly emotional (far more so than exchanging letters), but they are usually very productive because communication between the parties in-person is one of the best ways to help them reach agreeable terms.
It is common for a Judge to require parties to attend a settlement conference prior to their trial date. If you have been unwilling to attend a settlement conference for one reason or another, we would urge you to reconsider. Speak with your attorney about the benefits of such a conference and you just might decide to change your mind.
Mediation in Divorce Cases
Similar to a settlement conference, a Mediation is a meeting between the parties to discuss settlement. The difference here is that a neutral individual (the “mediator”) is present to assist the parties by facilitating discussions and making recommendations. The mediator is often someone trained in the law (a lawyer or a judge), who will help guide the parties towards a resolution by analyzing the facts and the legal issues involved in the case. Mediation has a high success rate and is therefore a very popular settlement tool.
Property Settlement Agreement
In Virginia, once the parties reach an agreement, the terms of that agreement are often put into a written contract referred to as a “separation agreement” (or “PSA” for property settlement agreement). The PSA should spell out all of the terms of the parties’ agreement and should be filed with the Virginia Court when the parties finalize their divorce. You can read more about property settlement agreements here.
The family law and divorce attorneys at BoykoNapier are experienced trial attorneys. We handle cases through Central Virginia, including Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover and the surrounding localities. If you have questions about a separation or divorce, call us today at (804) 658-3418, or contact via email.