An Agreement Is Voluntary Only…

In divorce and family law court cases (including but not limited to: child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, equitable distribution, and modifications) clients are always asking what can we do to make the other settle and agree.  The answer is simple: “nothing.” If the other side could be made to agree, we would not be in court to begin with.  If we could make them agree, it would be subject to being vacated for not being voluntary.  The only non-voluntary outcome of a court case is a judge’s decision after trial.

A litigant is more apt to agree to what you want if there is something the other litigant wants to exchange.  If a litigant feels he or she is holding all the cards, that litigant is not very likely to agree to anything.  If the litigant knows it will end with things more to the other side’s favor, that litigant may just delay agreeing for as long as possible and wait to the very last minute to agree.

Until a trial is held, a judge is not supposed to make a decision and order.  For temporary situations until the trial is held, the court is not supposed to make a decision without a motion being fully submitted and then may set the motion down for a hearing.  The motion can take months until it is fully submitted, conferenced and decided.  Then if it is set down for a hearing, is almost never anytime soon.  The court will push for the litigants to make a compromise and the courts often do not care if it is fair to one or the other.  The court has too many cases to deal with and wants to clear its calendar.

Some courts will push one or both sides to what it thinks is fair more than others.  This is individual thing.  But, some of the courts that do this do it well, and some cause more grief due to its biases that show through or lack of sensitivity to one side that thinks it is being victimized and needs redemption.  Redemption has nothing to do with any court proceeding in divorce and family law cases except for maybe domestic violence allegations.

You must understand what is a reasonable expectation and what is not.  Making someone agree or settle is not a reasonable expectation.  Your lawyer should not just parrot you and advocate for you blindly, but as well counsel you to know what is and is not reasonable to be expected during the course of the case and as a final outcome.  If the other side’s lawyer does not do this, agreements and settlements become much more difficult to attain.