Most court cases are settled. In a settlement both sides agree to the outcome of the case and there is no trial before a judge or a jury. The settlement can be made with or without the help of the court. The agreement is written down and signed by both sides. This writing is called a Stipulation of Settlement. This can be done before you come to court or when you are in court. The court can provide a form to write the settlement, or you can make your own. Always keep a copy of the Settlement.

Many people choose to settle instead of going to trial because a settlement is much faster and you can be sure of the outcome.


Be Careful

When you sign a Stipulation of Settlement you are making a binding legal agreement that must be followed. If one side does not follow the agreement, the other side can ask the court to enforce it. Because of this, it is very important to read the agreement, understand it and be sure that you can do anything you agree to do. Make sure that the agreement clearly takes care of claims and counterclaims. You can ask the Judge to explain anything you do not understand.

You do not have to settle the case if you do not think it is fair. You do not have to speak to the other side without the Judge unless you want to. It is your right to have a trial.


What to Do if the Settlement is Not Followed

Sometimes, one party does not do what was agreed to in the Settlement. If this happens, either party can ask the court for help by filling out an Order to Show Cause or motion papers asking for a court date to explain the problem.

If you did not follow the Settlement, or you know you will not be able to follow the Settlement, you can ask the court for help changing the Settlement. For example, you may need more time to make a payment, or you may need to change a date. This may not be easy because you signed the Settlement and promised to do something already. You will have to give the court a good reason why the Settlement should be changed and bring any proof that may get the judge to agree with you.

If the other side does not follow the Settlement you can ask the court for help making the other side comply with the Settlement. Sometimes the Stipulation of Settlement says what happens if either side does not comply. For example, the Stipulation of Settlement may say that one side can have a judgment if the other side does not comply. In this example, the order to show cause can ask the judge to order the judgment.

Read more about How to Ask the Court for Something in your case by making an Order to Show Cause or a Motion.

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