Last Minute Agreements

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Occasionally, disputes are settled while you are waiting for your case to be heard. Even on the day you go to court, it is proper to ask the other person to step into the hall for a moment to talk the matter over. If you can agree on a last-minute compromise, wait until the courtroom clerk calls your case by name and then tell the judge the amount you have agreed upon and whether the amount is to be paid all at once, or over time. Typically, the judge will order that the case be dismissed if one person pays the other the agreed-upon amount on the spot, or, if payment is to be made later, the judge will enter a judgment for the amount that you have agreed on.

Another possibility is that you and your opponent will agree to a last-minute attempt to mediate. If so, you will want to explain this to the judge, who in turn will normally delay ("continue," in legalese) your case until the mediation session takes place. If mediation works and your case settles, you and the other party should jointly notify the court clerk. Again, unless the agreed-upon amount is immediately paid, the debtor will normally want to return to court and have the settlement amount made part of an official court order (judgment).

by: Ralph Warner

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