Lots of parties come into family law cases with a conceptual idea that they desire to settle. And who wouldn’t want this? A long drawn out family law case just isn’t appealing. It can result in fees escalating. It can result in emotional trauma being prolonged.
On the other hand, to settle a family law case, parties really have to agree on one-hundred percent of everything. So, in a divorce for example, with children, the parties have to agree on property and debt division, child support, spousal support, child custody, and the apportionment of attorneys’ fees between the parties. Tied into all these components of family law cases, there are a plethora of little details that have to be agreed upon. This is what makes settling a family law case difficult.
Even where the parties can agree on these big-ticket items, an attorney still has to draft settlement paperwork that is comprehensive and helps eliminate ambiguities and loopholes. It is also critical that items not be overlooked or missed.
- So, as it relates to property and debt division, it is important to get deeds, car titles, bank statements retirement account statements, and other documents related to the property and debt of the parties.
- As it relates to debts, the parties need to get to the attorneys all documents relating to the debt, like credit card statements, student loan statements, mortgage statements, loan documents, promissory notes, or any other documents related to their debts.
- As it relates to child support and spousal support, the parties need to accumulate tax returns, paycheck stubs, earning’s statements, daycare bills, health insurance bills, and other documents related to their income (and support of the children) to calculate child support and spousal support
When an attorney asks for these items, unfortunately, there is often a misconception that none of this is necessary. One spouse might say to the other, “Why is your attorney being so difficult by asking for all of this?” Some might even wrongly conclude that if an attorney wants this, the other party must not want their family law case to settle. Otherwise, why would they ask for any of this? When an attorney is on the opposite side of the case who doesn’t do much family law, they might even fuel this mistaken belief.
Explained again, far too often, the viewpoint is that if the case is settling, none of this is needed. Some wrongly theorize that the attorneys can simply put together some documents quickly and finalize the case. The reality, however, is that attorneys still have a duty to be competent and diligent. Thus, all of these documents are necessary even in cases where the parties intend on settling.
Ensuring that there are minimal loopholes, and the settlement documents take into account all realistic scenarios is the basic duty of an attorney. This helps ensure that the parties are not in court later disagreeing on the terms. It also helps ensure that something was not missed. This all relates to the attorney’s duty as a professional to advise their clients appropriately. It does not mean that the attorney is standing in the way of settlement.
At the end of the day, being thorough is not being difficult. Being thorough simply ensures that the client is protected as best as possible. After all, it’s always better (even when parties are settling) to take a little more time to make sure the I’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed in any settlement documents that the parties are signing.
If you have a family law matter and need assistance, you can contact the family law attorneys at Stange Law Firm, PC by calling 1-855-805-0595.