What is negotiation?

4. Make a written offer to settle

As part of the , it can help if you ask your partner to consider a formal proposal to resolve your issues. You can put what you are willing to agree to in an . An offer to settle is a written document that is sent by one partner to the other partner that says what they are willing to agree to in order to settle all or part of the issues.

You can make an offer to settle at any time, even if you do not have a court case. If you later decide to go to court, the judge looks at any offers to settle to help you reach an agreement before you go to a trial.

You can put in a time limit. For example, your offer can say that it isn't valid after a certain date and time.

If you don't include a time limit, the offer is open for your partner to accept until a judge decides your issues. This applies even if you hadn't started your court case when you made your offer.

You must sign the offer to settle. If you have a lawyer, they must sign it too.

You can take away your offer to settle by giving your partner written notice that you are withdrawing your offer to settle. You can do this at any time before they have accepted your offer to settle. You can also do this whether or not your offer to settle had a time limit.

You should write “without prejudice” on any offer to settle or letters to your partner talking about settlement. This means that it cannot be looked at by your trial judge if you decide to go to court later. This lets you make an offer to settle without worrying that the judge who will make a final decision knows what is in your offer to settle.

For example, at trial you may ask the court to order your partner to pay you of $500 per month for 10 years. But in your offer to settle, you said you would accept less money for a shorter period of time. If your offer is marked “without prejudice”, your trial judge won't know what you said in your offer to settle until after they make their decision.

After the trial, the trial judge only looks at offers to decide if they should make an order for .

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