11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

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11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby AtticusFinch » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:13 am

I have a court date concerning paying for college costs in about 2 months.

I've heard people have come to resolution via 11th hour "court house steps" agreements, but I find it impossible to wrap my head around the mechanics of it.

Firstly, I'm a very detailed oriented person and want to see everything spelled out in writing. Something as spontaneous as this type of last minute agreement would be something I'd be very nervous about.

Secondly, I wouldn't trust anything the mother or OC proposed to me verbally. I can easily see a scenario where they would make what sounded like an attractive proposal, causing the court date to be cancelled, but then additional terms were added in the writing stage("oh, of course, when we said you'd get x, that meant you wouldn't get y. I mean, that was obvious.") making the deal unpalatable. But, with no court date looming, my leverage would be gone.

I remember in a past court case concerning custody, I was made an offer by OC in the courthouse hall, no more than 10 minutes before we walked in court. But I wasn't interested in the offer and, even if I had been, I can't imagine accepting it without a detailed written agreement.

Chime in with your thoughts or experiences.
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby whatever_works » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:40 am

You are absolutely right in your suspicions. My wife has tried that on me as well. The only way to protect yourself is to work with your attorney and do a hand written agreement and put it in front the judge. Have your attorney detail the agreement to the judge, then work out the details offline. And if the other party changes when hashing out the details, you go back.

That is my understanding from the court dates so far.

You are throwing away some leverage if you are declining to negotiate at the last minute. I understand some scenarios are too complicated but in most cases you should know what you would settle for and you should be prepared to take that deal. The fact is, bait and switch applies to both parties. Not that you should, but you could. :)
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby lovingfatherof2 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:02 am

What state are you in again?

You have this kind of backwards. At the 11th hour your attorney presents OC with a settlement agreement just before going in front of the judge. Not the other way around.
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby Havalu7 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:06 am

Was sitting in my socks and skivies before driving to Courthouse and my Atty called me to say that they were accepting my offer; thirty minutes before we had to leave to go to Courthouse.
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby AtticusFinch » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:06 pm

whatever_works wrote:You are absolutely right in your suspicions. My wife has tried that on me as well. The only way to protect yourself is to work with your attorney and do a hand written agreement and put it in front the judge. Have your attorney detail the agreement to the judge, then work out the details offline. And if the other party changes when hashing out the details, you go back.

That is my understanding from the court dates so far.

You are throwing away some leverage if you are declining to negotiate at the last minute. I understand some scenarios are too complicated but in most cases you should know what you would settle for and you should be prepared to take that deal. The fact is, bait and switch applies to both parties. Not that you should, but you could. :)


Very helpful information. I suspected the missing step might be getting the judge in the loop.

I'd like to query you about some specifics in your post.

Was the handwritten agreement reviewed by the judge in open court, as part of the record? Did the judge have any input? When you say "if the other changed something, you go back to court", how was this insured? I'm asking because it seems to me the worst thing would be to lose your place in the court line and have to go back to the beginning.
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby AtticusFinch » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:09 pm

lovingfatherof2 wrote:What state are you in again?

You have this kind of backwards. At the 11th hour your attorney presents OC with a settlement agreement just before going in front of the judge. Not the other way around.


New York.

I've already made a reasonable offer to the mother and don't have any intention of modifying it before the court date, so there won't be any settlement proposal from my side.

The mother, however, hasn't given an concrete proposal on the matter and I suspect when OC gets involved(which I suspect isn't the case right now), he will rectify that.
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby lovingfatherof2 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:49 pm

AtticusFinch wrote:I've already made a reasonable offer to the mother


Did you make that reasonable offer just minutes before seeing the judge?

Probably not
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby whatever_works » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:02 pm

AtticusFinch wrote:Was the handwritten agreement reviewed by the judge in open court, as part of the record? Did the judge have any input? When you say "if the other changed something, you go back to court", how was this insured? I'm asking because it seems to me the worst thing would be to lose your place in the court line and have to go back to the beginning.


Open court. If the two of you agree to a few changes, you handwrite those and have both parties sign. You can read and re-read the words to make sure you like it. Lawyers use better wording to begin with. But something falls through the cracks and wives take advantage of that when you get back home.

That is why you run it by the judge to make sure all bases are covered and he understands the spirit of the agreement.

Going back for change has not been a problem for me so far. But that is because if the wife finds a flaw and exploits it, you have to evaluate how badly you want it. If she comes back and says that calls are allowed but Skype is not written so it is not allowed - what do you do? If it is really important to you, you ask your lawyer to go back to the judge either for clarification or get a new court date. Or you just let it go.

Basic idea is that make her an offer and be prepared to negotiate at the 11-th hour. For some reason, attorney's come up with all their ideas on the steps of the court. It is because they have made their money for the day and see no purpose in wasting the judge's time.
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby Trevor » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:31 pm

Let me add in two addition words: Court Reporter.
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Re: 11th hour "court house steps" agreements: Thoughts?

Unread postby hoosier_dad » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:00 pm

Both of my settlements included handwritten and signed agreements. The first came out of mediation, and the second was a court house steps last second agreement.

Instead of typing out the agreement in a new decree with the potential of either side changing the terms, the decree sections simply stated referrals like "Assets will be split per exhibit A". Exhibit A was a handwritten page with 2 columns and all assets split up between us. Same with parenting time agreements. Those individual exhibits/agreements were signed by both parties and both attorneys.
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