Divorce can seem like a contentious process, especially with its typically strong emotional component. Like most other lawyers, though, a divorce lawyer will almost always prefer to reach a fair settlement rather than get into a court fight. If you're trying to figure out what your divorce is likely to look like, it's important to understand settling as an option and what it may entail.
Fundamentally, the settlement is an agreement. Notably, the settlement doesn't have to conform perfectly to state laws regarding things like the division of assets and liabilities.
As long as the deal is fair, there is room for horse trading in the settlement. Suppose one former partner wants to keep the marital residence, but this arrangement creates an imbalance in the division. They could offset the imbalance with something else. For example, their divorce lawyer might propose they take on the credit card debt from the marriage in exchange for keeping the house.
Lawsuit and Review
A noteworthy oddity about the divorce settlement process is there still has to be a lawsuit. One partner must sue in the county's family court system to end the marriage. This has to happen regardless of the settlement because the government must officially terminate the union. Otherwise, there would be a legal overhang that would prevent either person from marrying someone else later.
Likewise, the settlement terms will go to a judge for review. Generally, this is a formality. The judge will want to make sure the deal is fair to both sides. Also, the court will want to confirm that neither divorce attorney made any mistakes.
Family Matters May Not Be Settled Permanently
Barring significant evidence of fraud, the settlement permanently sets things as far as property and debts go. However, family issues in the settlement are never permanently settled. If the child custody agreement tied to the settlement becomes untenable and one party asks the court for relief, for example, a judge can enter an order that might revise or even nullify it.
This happens because the family court's mandate isn't to abide by the settlement. Instead, a judge must do what's in the best interests of the child. If the circumstances surrounding the child change, the judge doesn't have to treat the settlement as set in stone.
Many states have cooling-off periods in their divorce laws. If you live in such a state, a divorce attorney can't submit the suit or the settlement until that period has expired. For more information, reach out to a divorce lawyer in your area like one at North Metro Litigators.