5 Important Tips on How to Settle Your Family Law Case

5 Important Tips on How to Settle Your Family Law Case

How to Settle Your Family Law Case: I get all sorts of clients but the best ones who are keen on how to settle their family law case in a quick and inexpensive way. Believe it or not, that is what I am fully keen on as well. Trust me no family lawyer, no human wants to engage in years of conflict. It runs against our nature, it wears us down and takes us to a negative environment that we don’t want to be in. And no, most of us family lawyers don’t fight because there is money in fighting. We charge the same rate for settling cases or going to court and fighting. Settling cases  is way better than going to court and pays the same amount of money. All in all, trust me settling your family law case is in everyone’s best interests, most importantly your children.

If you are thinking about how to settle your family law case, you are not alone. Almost no one ever wants to start separation or divorce by fighting. Most people just want to have a fair outcome and to move on. The problem or conflict however starts when a ‘fair outcome’ has a different meaning for each of the separating couples and there is disagreement as to what is reasonable and fair.

Of course there are other cases where one spouse or both only want to fight and make each other’s lives a living hell, at any cost. As a family lawyer, I also get those parents who think their children should only have one parent after separation and do not understand or want to appreciate the other parent. There goes a massive fight which everyone will regret later.

Anyways, if you are keen on settling your family law case, follow these 5 tips to ensure the highest success and satisfaction in your case:

Settle Your Family Law Case Tip #1: Be Informed

Before negotiating with your ex, going to mediation, going to settlement conference or trial, the first thing you need to make sure you have is proper knowledge and information regarding your rights and possible outcomes. Every family law case is different with its unique facts, so the first thing you need to do is set up a consultation with a family lawyer, tell them about your story and ask for their opinion and strategy going forward.

You can’t use Google to find your answers. That is like asking a robot to feel emotions, assess different facts of your case and then apply them correctly to come up with an outcome that emotionally and logically suites your case. That is impossible for a machine to do, at least currently. Only a human is capable of understanding both logic and emotions, and finding the best solution to both.

Of course you are thinking I say this because it means family lawyers will make money. Yes that is true. But if you paid $300 for a consultation and ended up saving about $50,000 on your case, would you make the investment? It is the same thing as you paying $2000 per year on your car insurance so that one day when there is an accident, you do not lose more than you have to.

You do not need to have a lawyer represent you throughout the whole process. But you do need proper information and strategy. Otherwise, going in to the family law sphere and making your own choices is similar to trying to fix your car yourself without going to the mechanic:  there is a small chance you will win but a big chance that you will mess it up a lot more and will lose a lot more than if you went to the right person to find out the problem and solution first. Enough with my metaphors, I think you get the drill by now.

Settle Your Family Law Case Tip #2: Give it Up

The biggest problem with unsuccessful negotiations and mediations is that people go into these meetings wanting their base case scenarios or something close to it. Of course you are not going to get that. Settlements are about losing something in return for saving the time and money of fighting. Of course there is a chance if you went to court you could get everything you wanted and more, but there is also a chance that you would lose everything and more. So when you think about what to give up and how much to give up consider these important points:

  1. Create a range of outcomes based on what you can give up and see if you can live with them;
  2. When creating a range, go outside of your comfort zone and accept losing more than you have to. You have to let go and accept that somethings will not work in your favour and must be given up before getting what is really important to you;
  3. Money is the one thing in the world that comes and goes on a daily basis. Losing money is better than losing your health and sanity. Give up on asking for every penny. Give up to close to half of what you are expecting to receive, and you will likely have a settlement.
  4. You do not own your kids and neither the other parent. Your rights are not the same as your children’s rights. Look at any settlement from the eye of your kids, and not from your eye or the other parent’s eye. In most situations, 50/50 parenting is the best arrangement as long as the parents are decent and fit to care for children. Little excuses about how you are a better parent than the other parent won’t really work. None of us is supposed to be perfect, so give it up.

Settle Your Family Law Case Tip #3: Decision is Yours

Do not let your family lawyer, your new boyfriend/girlfriend, your friend, your parents or anyone else make your decisions for you. Your family lawyer is only there to give you information, strategy, chances of success and recommendations. Your family lawyer is not to make decisions for you and if any family lawyer tries to do that, get out as soon as possible.

Family lawyers look at what you are legally entitled to and what your risks are. They did not live your life, do not have the whole picture (because they only represent one side) and cannot possibly be the most suited to make decisions. The decision is always yours no matter what anyone says. So if your family lawyer says if you went to court you could get $1,000,000 more and you are crazy to settle, but in your heart you think this is the best thing to do for yourself and children, then listen to your heart. Your heart is the best judge in every situation and no other human should ever convince you to go against it. 

If you let someone else make your decisions for you, you will almost always regret it. Be guided. Be informed. Ask your questions. But make your own decisions.

Settle Your Family Law Case Tip #4: Regret is Mostly a Mistake

Many family law litigants wonder what would happen if they didn’t settle and just went to court. Yes if you went to court you may have won everything you gave up for settlement, but what people forget is that there is peace of mind, control and joy in giving up something to move on and not further damage relationships, specially when kids are involved. Regretting the settlement you agreed to is the worst thing you can do because no compromise deserves regret. Compromise deserve praise and the fact that you gave up what you were entitled to to achieve something more valuable – like peace of mind, clarity, humbleness and closure.

So after you settle, never look back. Only look forward. For some reason, everything in this world somehow works out and so will your future, with or without what you gave up.

Settle Your Family Law Case Tip #5: Make it Bullet Proof

Family law settlements mainly take two forms: separation agreements or consent orders.

If you are settling property claims, always and always get in to a consent order because those are pretty much bullet proof and can only be challenged if fraud or misrepresentation are committed. Getting a consent Order means getting a judge to sign off on your settlement and once that is done, you can set your mind at ease and move on to the next chapter of life.

Separation agreements are more comprehensive and talk about every issue at present, past and future. Although they are comprehensive and good measures to protect you, I always recommend that they get turned in to a consent order and filed with the courts.

If you have a settlement but do not get in to a separation agreement or consent order, you will risk your ex challenging the agreement and then you will find yourself in months or years of litigation defending the settlement. Oral settlements are much harder to prove than written settlements. Always make sure you both have lawyers who can sign off on the separation agreement or consent order to make sure both are bullet proof.

Good luck and as always, if you have any questions about how to settle your family law case or how to do you separation agreements or family law consent orders, contact our award winning family lawyers at 604-974-9520 or email us at info@ylaw.ca