Most divorce cases settle before trial

Most people going through a divorce in Alabama do not look forward to going to court. The thought of having to testify at a trial about the failure of one’s marriage can be very stressful. In addition, the outcome of a trial is often unpredictable. For these reasons, most divorce cases are settled by agreement of the parties before a trial is necessary.

Settlement can be accomplished through alternative dispute resolution procedures, such as mediation. In many cases, however, the parties negotiate a settlement informally through their lawyers. If the parties are able to agree on the major issues, such as property division, spousal support, child custody and child support, the lawyers then prepare a settlement agreement and submit it to a judge for approval.

In most divorce cases, the judge will approve a settlement agreement unless it is blatantly unfair to one of the parties. The judge will ordinarily hold a brief hearing to confirm the parties understand the agreement they have entered into, and that nobody signed it because of undue pressure from the other side. Once the judge approves the agreement, he or she will issue a decree of dissolution that incorporates the terms the parties have agreed to.

Sometimes that parties are able to agree on most issues, but must submit one or two issues for the judge to decide. In these situations the judge will typically approve the partial settlement and set the remaining issues on for a trial.

Reaching a fair divorce settlement requires understanding one’s legal rights. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help a spouse get what they are entitled to.

Source:, “Settlement Agreements and Court Approval,” accessed March 5, 2017