A settlement agreement is the signed, written document produced at the end of a lawsuit, or when settling a dispute before or during a lawsuit, but without moving through the whole process to reach a final judgment in court.
Both parties to the dispute, if there are only two, or all parties to the dispute, when there are several, must sign the settlement agreement in order to make it legally binding. Generally, lawyers draft settlement agreements on behalf of their clients, and they make changes in the agreements as negotiations proceed toward a mutually-agreeable conclusion. Sometimes both (or several) lawyers are involved in drafting the changes in settlement agreements.
In reality, most civil lawsuits result in settlement agreements. In general, this is true of family law matters and business matters. “Public policy favors the settlement of disputes.” Willingboro Mall, Ltd. v. 240/242 Franklin Ave., L.L.C., 215 N.J. 242, 253 (2013)
It would be easy to assume that reducing legal and court costs is the primary reason lawsuits are settled out of court, but there are other good reasons to reach a settlement instead of pursing a judgment in court.
The personal information you may have to reveal, the time you will spend collecting evidence and going to court, and the potential loss of income and reputation are only a few of the other reasons litigants usually settle.
The bottom line for most people is this – all parties can exert more control in settlement negotiations than in the courtroom. Presenting evidence for a judge or a jury to make a decision is risky. You cannot know their decision in advance, and you’ll be held to their decision or you’ll have to appeal it on legal grounds.
Settlement agreements are drafted by the attorneys, not by the court. So, having a good attorney with the knowledge, skill and understanding of the case and of the court system is critical to achieve your desired outcome in settlement.
To discuss your need for expert representation and negotiation of a settlement agreement in New Jersey, call us for a no-obligation consultation, (732) 365-3299. Or email us to make an appointment and discuss your current needs.