Settlement Counsel
Frequently Asked Questions

Settlement counsel is a general term that is used to describe an attorney who focuses on achieving resolution by helping their client reach an out of court agreement. Settlement counsel is an umbrella term for how an attorney can represent a client in a number of different processes.

We have developed the following FAQs with the hope of helping clarify what settlement counsel is and its advantages. It is a viable path to consider for divorce as well as resolving other family legal matters including, but not limited to, modifications, child custody, support, parenting plans, and division of assets and liabilities.

What is settlement counsel?
The use of settlement counsel is a path to consider for divorce or to resolve other family law matters outside of court. Like mediation and Collaborative Law, settlement counsel can be part of an out of court, confidential process.

Your attorney is representing you and advocating for you to achieve an agreement.
Should you choose to work with Levitt Family Law & Mediation, Karen J. Levitt would be your attorney and advocate working toward achieving an agreement with the other attorney and parties involved using collaboration, communication, and negotiation.

What are the advantages of settlement counsel?

Choosing settlement counsel as the path to achieve an agreed to settlement offers many potential advantages including, but not limited to:

  • You have an attorney who is providing you advice and support to achieve agreed to resolution.
  • It is an out of court process focused on agreeing to resolve the family legal matter thorough negotiation, communication and collaboration.
  • It is private and confidential.
  • It may help you and the other party find a way to co-parent after divorce.
  • It may help maintain relationships with mutual friends, family, business or community connections that you don’t want to “split” as a result of your divorce.
  • It may enable you to move forward with your life in a more positive manner.
  • The financial cost for legal services can be less than litigation.
  • You have more control over the process and outcome as you are not leaving it to the Court to make decisions for you.
  • The emotional cost on you and your family can be less than litigation.
  • The timeframe for resolution of a family legal matter through settlement counsel is typically less than litigation.
How do I prepare for an initial meeting?
In advance of the meeting, please be prepared to share your story. We want to understand your goals for the process and the outcome. For example, if we are meeting to get a divorce, we want to hear the history of your marriage and all factual information that you believe would be important for us to know in representing you. Please make note of any concerns for us to discuss and summarize the facts surrounding what is prompting this meeting. It is also helpful to organize your financial information, making a list of assets including how they are titled, and liabilities including whether they are joint or individual debts. Many clients find seeking assistance from their financial planner or advisor is helpful. Gather financial information including, but not limited to, statements regarding bank accounts, investment, stock of any kind, and mortgage accounts or assets and liabilities, as well as paystubs or other evidence of income such as tax returns.
Why Levitt Family Law & Mediation for settlement counsel?
Karen J. Levitt has been a thought leader in the state of Massachusetts on adopting effective processes to attain lasting agreements outside of court including providing representation as settlement counsel. She is passionate and proven in effectively negotiating, collaborating, and advocating for her clients while achieving agreed to resolutions that avoid adversarial court proceedings. Her decades of experience as a skilled negotiator and litigator make her an effective family law attorney achieving settlements that meet her client’s goals.
What happens if resolution can’t be attained through settlement counsel?
If parties are unable to attain resolution through the use of settlement counsel or reach impasse on an issue, they have a variety of options. They can still seek the use of mediation, private conciliation, or arbitration should they still not want to go to court but perhaps are “stuck”, and their settlement counsel can still represent them and guide them. They can also switch to litigation, leaving final decisions up to a judge.
What kind of training does an attorney need for settlement counsel?
There is not additional training required for an attorney to represent a client out of court as settlement counsel.
How does settlement counsel differ from mediation?
In settlement counsel cases, unlike most mediation cases, typically the client has an attorney who is an advocate for their client and their client’s interests.
What should I expect by retaining settlement counsel?
The client and their attorney work cooperatively toward resolution. Financial information will be exchanged, issues identified, and the parties and counsel will engage in negotiations to address all issues and attendant details. The negotiations are settlement oriented and designed to lead toward resolution by agreement. The parties and counsel may even meet together to discuss issues and outcome, and can retain experts where needed to assist in addressing issues that need additional input or expertise.
Is there a case facilitator or “coach”?
No, there is not usually a coach or case facilitator when the attorney is acting as settlement counsel.
What if we need other professionals to help us?

Financial professionals, business valuators, real estate appraisers or brokers, pension experts, child specialists, or other professionals can be part of settlement negotiations. These professionals, when used to assist parties in gathering or understanding information necessary to determine asset values, parenting plans, or other issues in the case, make the settlement process more efficient in providing needed information and adding value as well as reducing time and cost.  Please refer to the Professionals listing for additional information about other professionals that may be part of the process.

What is the cost of settlement counsel?
The cost of legal services for settlement counsel work can vary just like any other legal process – and like mediation and litigation it can depend on the complexity of the issues and the dynamics of the clients. However, the clients have the opportunity to think about costs and determine what is necessary in their case, so that they can have some control over their costs.
How long does a settlement counsel case take?
The average settlement counsel case, like mediation, takes approximately six months although there are cases that take more or less time than that. Litigated cases typically take longer.
How do I decide whether to choose the settlement counsel path vs. another path?
There is no magic answer to determining what works best for you – you should choose a path that you think will work best for you and serve your needs as well as those of your family in achieving your desired result. We are happy to discuss your options to help you to make that decision.

During the initial consultation, we will gather information about you, your marriage or other family law issues, your goals, interests, and concerns, and discuss with you your options including what process options you have available. This discussion is intended to help you decide if settlement counsel feels like the right choice for you.

How do I get the other party to agree to settlement counsel?
We have information we can provide to you, that you can provide to the other party, including how the other party can find a family law attorney for settlement counsel work, and to get the other party to engage settlement counsel. You are also welcome to send the other party to our website for information about settlement counsel.
Where can I get more information about settlement counsel?

We have more information about settlement counsel on the website; review our Resource section as well as search our blog, Around the Table.


General FAQs


Mediation FAQs

Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law FAQs

Settlement Counsel

Settlement Counsel FAQs


Workshops & Training


Legal Resources


Professionals to Help