Trying To Settle A Divorce Pre-Complaint Can’t Be Dangerous, Can It?

We always recommend that people try to settle a
before filing a complaint. The most important reason we give for this
approach is that filing a complaint for divorce puts your life into the
court system. You are required to file various documents and attend court
appearances. Often, when you settle a divorce before going into the court
system, you save a great deal of money, time and aggravation. However,
there are times that trying to settle a divorce pre-complaint can backfire.

There are two situations we encounter on a regular basis. The first is
when two parties agree to attend mediation without retaining individual
attorneys. This sounds like a great, cost-efficient approach. However,
how long do you give the process? In our office, we have seen a case where
two parties went to mediation for eight years and never fully reached
an agreement. In another case, the parties went to mediation for two years
with a very experienced family law attorney and one party simply will
not agree to finish the process. Given that many of our laws deal with
duration of the marriage or whether assets were acquired before the complaint
for divorce is filed, spending many months or years in mediation can have
a substantial adverse impact on the issues in your divorce if you do not settle.

The other common situation we see is attorney-directed settlement attempts
prior to filing a complaint. Our common practice is to send our client’s
spouse a settlement proposal before filing a complaint. Sometimes, the
other spouse retains an attorney, sends a response, and we are on the
road to settlement. Other times, our letter goes without a response for
many weeks or months. The issue our clients have to face is when should
we stop waiting and file a complaint.

Trying to settle a divorce pre-Complaint is great in theory, but sometimes
in practice can be counterproductive. One thing you can do is agree to
end the marriage as of a certain date while settlement negotiations proceed.
However, not everyone will agree to a stipulated end date of the marriage.
When you go down this road, you have to be mindful that settlement is
important, but ensuring you start the divorce process if there is no settlement,
which can take more than a year, is equally important.

if you want to see what approach to settlement is best for you and your
case. We will not tell you what you want to hear. We will tell you what
you need to know.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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