Why You Want a Lawyer for an Out-of-Court Divorce Settlement

Out-of-Court Divorce Settlement Lawyer

patrickcrawford | November 16, 2021

Why You Want a Lawyer for an Out-of-Court Divorce Settlement

Every divorce takes a different path, and some are much rockier than others. One couple might have a divorce that takes a few weeks to finalize after they file the petition with the court, while another couple might have a case that drags on for more than a year or longer. You might think that if you have a relatively straightforward situation, you do not need to hire a divorce attorney to represent you. However, this can be a mistake, as even a seemingly simple divorce case can go wrong and impact your future in costly ways. 

Settlement vs. Litigation

There are two primary ways that divorcing spouses can resolve their cases – either through an out-of-court settlement or litigation in court. Maryland divorce laws require spouses to resolve a number of issues, which might include:


  1. Property and asset division
  2. Spousal support
  3. Child support
  4. Child custody


Some spouses are able to sit down and negotiate resolutions to all necessary matters, which they can memorialize in a settlement agreement. This agreement can then get presented to the court, and the family judge will often approve it and incorporate it into the divorce decree. This process is usually fairly quick and straightforward once you file your petition and settlement agreement with the court.


On the other hand, if you two spouses cannot agree on every issue at hand, the matter becomes more complicated. Any issues that are not resolved out of court must be presented to the court. The judge will hear evidence and arguments from each spouse (through their attorneys) at trial and then make a decision on how to resolve the remaining issues. This process can take time and resources, as trial preparation can be extensive.


Generally speaking, the preference for most divorcing spouses is to reach an out-of-court settlement regarding all relevant issues instead of needing litigation. This can save spouses time, money, and stress, and it can leave the solution to major life issues in their own hands – not the judge’s.


If you and your spouse believe you can reach an agreement, you might be tempted to save money by not hiring an attorney. However, this can be a huge mistake even if you reach an out-of-court settlement.

Knowing Your Rights Under the Law

Maryland law sets out the specific rights that you might have in a divorce case, which include:


  1. The right to equitable (fair) division of all marital property and assets
  2. The right to share legal and physical custody of your child if it is in the best interests of the child
  3. The right to financial support under certain circumstances, including a child and/or spousal support


These rights exist whether you are reaching an out-of-court settlement or heading to trial, and you want to make sure you stand up for your rights during negotiations with your spouse. The best way to do this is with the representation of an experienced divorce attorney.


Consider the following:


  1. Your spouse runs a business they started during the marriage.
  2. You also own a home together.
  3. Your spouse states that they should keep the business since they own it without you and makes the “generous” offer for you to keep the house.


This might seem like a logical solution, as you might assume that the business isn’t yours anyhow. However, because your spouse started the business during your marriage, it is considered to be marital property. If the business is worth significantly more than your house, this type of proposition might not be a fair deal at all.


If you go into negotiations with your spouse without legal assistance, chances are higher that you might agree to something that is less than you deserve. Your spouse might make a suggestion that seems fair when, in reality, it is more favorable to them and their future than yours.


With the right attorney on your side and negotiating on your behalf, you will know that all suggested resolutions by your attorney have your best interests in mind. It will prevent you from agreeing to something that goes against your rights under Maryland divorce laws.

Navigating the Divorce Procedures after a Settlement

Even if you have a settlement agreement and both spouses are okay with the resolution, you still need to follow proper divorce procedures in order to legally end your marriage. You must complete and file all the appropriate paperwork with the proper state court, including the settlement agreement that you want the judge to review. You must state proper grounds for your divorce, as well as meet residency requirements. This can be complicated to navigate if you do not have experience with the family court system, but a divorce lawyer can make sure that everything gets filed properly.


Even if you have an agreement on the relevant issues, the judge might have questions or concerns about your divorce agreement. Your attorney can represent you at any necessary court hearings to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays in your case, as well as to stand up for your rights under your divorce settlement. The process can go much smoother and with significantly less time and stress for you if you have the right legal help.

Meeting With a Divorce Lawyer

Scheduling your first meeting with a divorce attorney might seem intimidating, but it does not have to be. When you have your consultation, you do not even need to be sure that you want a divorce, as it can be an opportunity for you to explore your options in case you decide to move forward.


A lawyer can go over different types of divorce resolutions, including settlement agreements or litigation, among others. They can help you examine whether you think an out-of-court settlement might be possible in your case, based on the status of your relationship and communications with your spouse. They can help you identify goals you have in your divorce case, such as sharing custody or seeking spousal support.


Once you have your objectives in mind and you are moving forward with the divorce process, your attorney can build a case in your favor to bring into negotiations. This can increase your chances of reaching a favorable agreement with your spouse and their attorney. If you cannot agree right away, you might want to participate in mediation to help facilitate compromise. Your lawyer will be ready to review any potential mediation agreements before you sign them to ensure they are in your best interests.

Let an Annapolis, MD Divorce Attorney Help You

Overall, even if you can settle your divorce issues without going to court, you still want all the many benefits of legal representation. People who represent themselves in Maryland divorce cases regularly end up with far less property or financial support than they deserve, or the case might drag on unnecessarily without the right professional guidance.

Divorce is stressful, and you want to come out on the other side in the best possible position – both regarding your finances and your relationship with your children. You want the Law Office of Patrick Crawford on your side, protecting your rights. Contact us today to discuss your situation and your legal options and rights.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Patrick Crawford, who has more than 16 years of legal experience practicing family law.