Settlements: A Brief Explanation by Akilah Harris, PLLC.

For many cases, rather than going to trial, a settlement occurs that ends the case. Settlements serve as an alternative path from litigation through trial. Most settlements are achieved by negotiation between the attorneys and the parties agree to terms of settlement. In Family Law, settlements are very common in marital cases and paternity cases.

The majority of dissolution of marriage cases end in settlement. Settlements are a great way to end a marriage as amicably and beneficial as possible by putting the two parties in control of the decisions. Settlements can be reached at any time over the course of the case, and it is common for some parties to have an agreement about the major issues in place before the dissolution of marriage case is ever filed. Many times, the parties try and work with a mediator or another agreed-upon third party to assist them in reaching fair and reasonable agreements. Marital settlements are considered contracts and can be enforced with contract law. Although it is okay to have some vague and ambiguous agreements in the settlement, when there is an agreement on a major and contentious issue, the best course of action is to fully flesh it out with explicit terms and clarity to reduce the risk of a challenge.

With the rise of children being born into unmarried couples, paternity settlements have become ever more important, especially if the parents are not together. When a baby is born to unwed parents, the father of the child has to be acknowledged by the mother as the father and must sign an affidavit at the hospital to be added to the birth certificate. At some point, it will be important to start the paternity case, starting with a Petition to Determine Paternity, which establishes the legal father, custody arrangements, and child support. Settlement agreements are important and ideal in paternity cases to ensure that all the bases are covered when it comes to the rights of the parents and the wellbeing of the child. Settlement agreements should include timesharing, who pays child support, how is the school designated, how transportation costs are divided, IRS exemptions, which parent pays for insurance, and  uncovered medical costs to name just a few.

​Here at Akilah Harris PLLC, we understand the importance of having settlements that are fair and equitable. For issues like these with heavy emotional stakes involved, it is necessary to have an advocate on your side who will do what is best for you and any children that might be involved. If you have any questions about marital and/or paternal settlements, feel free to reach out to us at 954-526-9231.

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