4 Must Steps While Making Offer to Settle
The process of divorce may be emotionally and financially draining. One way to make the process more efficient and collaborative is by making offers to settle. An offer to settle occurs between a partner and their spouse regarding issues such as a child or spousal support.
An individual may choose to accept, reject or make a counteroffer. More than one offer can be made at a time. These offers can be made at any time during the court process.
The Family Law Rules legislation outlines what is required at every step of each case, such as making and accepting an offer. These rules are in place to encourage individuals to reach a settlement through an offer without going to trial. Rule 18 specifically focuses on Offers to Settle, which includes information such as:
- The application of the rule
- Making an offer
- Withdrawing an offer
- Time-limited offers
- Confidentiality of offer
- Accepting an offer
- Costs not dealt with within the offer
- Offers involving a special party or child party
- Failure to carry out terms or accepted offer
- Cost consequences of failure to accept the offer
You may make an offer through the assistance of a lawyer or choose to follow the guidelines available through the Family Law Rules. Rule 6 guides an individual on how to serve their documents. In essence, the four steps on making an offer to settle are:
1. Making an offer to settle:
After making an offer to settle, you must serve the offer on your partner and their lawyer. You may provide your partner with a deadline to follow including either a date, time or both. In case they do not accept the offer by the deadline, it must be considered to be withdrawn. If you fail to provide a deadline, the offer stands open until you withdraw it or the judge interferes with the issues in the offer.
2. Getting your partner’s response:
It is in your partner’s full discretion to accept, reject or make a counteroffer. The rules mentioned above also apply to receive an offer from your partner. You must ensure to note the time, date or both, of the deadline for the offer. Rule 18(14) points out that if an individual rejects an offer and they later learn the offer would have been ideal, they may be obligated to pay some of their partner’s legal costs.
3. Accepting the Offer:
Accepting an offer by either partner must be done prior to the judge making a decision about the issues in the offer. Once accepted, the offer must be transferred to a written document, called a “consent agreement” or “minutes of settlement” which both individuals have to sign.
It is essential to list the orders agreed on in this document. This agreement could be hand-written or typed. The next step is for either partner to request the court to put the agreement into a court order, also called a consent order.
4. Cost consequences for offers that are not accepted- In order for cost consequences to apply in a case, an offer to settle must:
- Be signed by the party making the offer,
- Be made at least 7 days before the trial,
- Still be valid (it has not expired or been withdrawn before the trial begins),
- Not be accepted by the other party
The judge may inquire why your partner is subject to cost consequences or why you aren’t required to pay some of your partner’s costs.
The process of divorce may be difficult for several reasons, which is why we’re here to help. Our lawyers at Tailor Law are professionally trained to guide you through the steps of making an offer to settle. If you require assistance, do not hesitate to contact our law firm at 905-366-0202, or visit our website here.