What Happens If One Party Refuses to Sign the Stipulation Of Settlement Agreement In New York? Are There Any Legal Remedies or Consequences?
The straightforward answer is no, both parties must reach an agreement for a settlement to be valid. If one party declines to sign off on a settlement, the case remains unresolved.
In such situations, it’s essential to identify the specific points of disagreement and work towards finding a compromise that both parties can accept, possibly with the assistance of a mediator or through court proceedings. Occasionally, if the parties agree on most terms but have a few outstanding disagreements, one may approach the Judge for an “advisory opinion.”
At this stage, if both parties and both attorneys agree to seek the Judge’s advisory opinion, the Judge is free to intervene and provide recommendations based on the information provided. The Judge may say something like, “I can’t prejudge the trial, but based on the information, here’s how I recommend resolving the deadlock.”
Sometimes, Judges may delegate this task to a court attorney or Referee, which is perfectly acceptable. The key point is that if one party does not follow through with the agreement, both sides must either reach an agreement on different terms or inform the Judge that the case will proceed to trial.
How Does a New York Court Typically Review And Approve A Stipulation Of Settlement Agreement In A Divorce Case? What Factors Do They Consider?
When it comes to divorce settlement agreements, the court’s primary concern is ensuring that all the crucial elements are addressed. As such, the court tends to approve most properly executed agreements.
For example, I’ve encountered situations where agreements were sent back because the opposing counsel forgot to specify who would cover the child’s medical insurance. The court typically requires such details to be clearly outlined in either an addendum to the agreement or an affidavit to ensure that nothing essential is omitted.
This is just one example, but when the court finds certain important elements are missing from a standard settlement agreement, they will send it back. It’s crucial to understand that, according to the law, the court cannot make changes to an agreement. So, the court’s role is not to examine the agreement and determine, for instance, whether the visitation arrangement is in the best interest of the children, as that would generally be beyond its authority in such matters.
The court carefully examines agreements to ensure they align with public policy and the law. For example, it’s essential to clearly mention in your agreement that child support can be changed once alimony ends. If you forget to include this, the court might step in and say, “Your agreement needs this provision to follow the law.” In my experience, I rarely encounter such issues, but there are cases where people consult me because they missed adding a proper acknowledgment in their agreements.
In many cases, the court process is relatively straightforward once the agreement is well-prepared. So you should ensure that your attorneys have the necessary expertise and a track record of successfully securing agreement approvals. It’s essential that they’re not newcomers to divorce law, as sometimes attorneys with a more general practice may not possess the required knowledge for divorce settlements. Being cautious in your choice is crucial.
What Are the Potential Advantages of Reaching A Stipulation Of Settlement Agreement In New York Divorce Case As Opposed To Going To Trial?
The number one advantage of settlements is that they’re a sure thing. By going to trial and putting all or some of your issues in the hands of the Judge, you’re risking the Judge coming up with a resolution that’s not ideal for either of the parties.
Another advantage of settlement agreements is the cost; it’s far less expensive to reach a settlement than it is to proceed to trial. In many senses, trials are just formalities. Why? Because by the time a case gets to trial, the Judge has seen the parties, heard their arguments over pre-trial hearings and conferences, and has a pretty good idea as to how they’re going to decide the case anyway.
If you proceed to trial in the Greater New York City area with a good divorce attorney, you’re conservatively looking at about $30- $50,000 in trial costs. In fact, you could be looking at an even higher bill than that if the trial deals with high-net-worth individuals, involves complex issues, or needs a decision on both financial issues as well as custody and visitation matters.
Another aspect to consider is the potential costs associated with a trial. These expenses may include fees for an attorney representing the child or children, payments to experts, witness fees, and the issuance of subpoenas. All of these factors can significantly increase the overall cost of the trial, expenses that can be avoided if you opt for a settlement instead.
In conclusion, the main reasons to strongly consider pursuing a divorce settlement rather than going to trial are twofold: first, the potential cost savings, as avoiding trial-related expenses can be significant; and second, the fact that the overwhelming majority of divorces, approximately 95 to 98%, ultimately reach resolution through a settlement agreement at some stage.
For more information on Handling Disputes In A Divorce Settlement Agreement, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (347) 797-1188 | (914) 362-3080 today.