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Celebrity Family Law – Laurence Fishburne
Many times, the filing of a Petition for Divorce is the first step in a divorce process, as this begins the divorce case in the court system. Sometimes, however, the Petition for Divorce is filed after all the outstanding issues have been resolved and a settlement agreement reached. Actor Laurence Fishburne and his wife, Gina Torres, recently chose this path to end their marriage. Laurence Fishburne Strikes Divorce Deal with Gina Torres, tmz.com, November 3, 2017. Fishburne only filed for divorce this month, the parties separated in October 2016. Since that time, the parties have negotiated and agreed to a division of their assets which Fishburne submitted for approval along with his Petition for Divorce.
Settling the case before filing a Petition for Divorce can be beneficial for a number of reasons. First, it gives the parties time to resolve the issues on their own time schedule. Once a Petition is filed, the Judge will most often want to keep the case moving through the system and may even schedule a hearing before the parties have had a chance to really speak about the terms of the divorce. Negotiating before filing allows the parties all the time they want without the courts breathing over their shoulder. In addition, once a Petition is filed, some counties automatically schedule status conferences and/or have other requirements that must be fulfilled. This can greatly increase the time you (or your attorney) has to spend on paperwork which can, in turn, greatly increase the cost of your divorce. Finally, the filing of a Petition for Divorce can often increase the stress in a divorce, for the reasons described above. When the stress level is high, people may be less willing to cooperate and compromise which can inhibit reaching a settlement.
While these can be great benefits, negotiating before filing will not work in every case. Some cases (and spouses) need the extra push from the court to keep the case moving along. For those who procrastinate, the court’s time line may actually be a good thing as it will seek to move the case towards a resolution, whether that be through settlement or trial. This option is a great one to keep in mind; however, if you have a cooperative spouse and you are both motivated to settle.