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What Is A Debt Settlement Agreement?

Dena Standley | August 03, 2023

Dena Standley
Legal Expert, Paralegal
Dena Standley, BA

Dena Standley is a seasoned paralegal with more than 20 years of experience in legal research and writing, having received a certification as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal from Southern Technical College.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: You can use settlement agreements to resolve disputes of all kinds. These could be employment disputes, medical malpractice, marital disputes, defective products, debt collection lawsuits, etc. Settlement agreements are legally binding, so you should understand what to ask for before signing. Below is SoloSuit's simple guide to settlement agreements.

A settlement agreement can help you bypass the lengthy and costly litigation process. For example, you can offer to settle instead of enduring a debt collection lawsuit. The court will dismiss the case if the debt collector accepts your offer.

The settlement agreement is a legally-binding document whose terms both parties must fulfill. So, before agreeing to or offering your opponent a settlement agreement, you must understand how these documents work and what you should request. You also need to ensure the settlement offer is selling you well.

Keep reading to learn a bit about settlement agreements. Then we will discuss what you need to ask for in yours.

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What is a settlement agreement?

Whenever you are part of a dispute, like in a civil case, you can resolve your issues in or out of court. The decision you make depends on the type of dispute and each party's willingness to find a resolution. Settlement agreements are often reached after arbitration. If you have been sued, SoloSuit can help you force the suit out of court with a Motion to Compel Arbitration.

If you settle a disagreement outside the court, you typically need a settlement agreement. The document states the terms under which the court may dismiss an ongoing lawsuit.

The party making the offer should sign in acceptance of the conditions therein. It is good practice for the opponent to sign and date to show that they agree with you.

In essence, the settlement agreement outlines the resolution to a dispute. Opposing parties negotiate, compromise, and sometimes change the terms before reaching an agreement.

Settlement agreements serve in almost all areas of life. Such agreements can help resolve issues resulting from:

  • Property allocation in divorce
  • Employment disputes
  • Personal injury
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • Debt collection lawsuits

A well-drafted settlement agreement should contain all the necessary details. If you are the one drafting the document, include the following:

  • Full names of both parties.
  • Detailed recitals (incidents that caused the conflicts).
  • Terms of release.
  • Consideration (Specific payable amounts or conditions that one or both parties must implement).
  • If a lawsuit is already in court, include the case name.

Remember that a settlement agreement does not address liabilities. Its sole purpose is to bring the dispute to an end.

Also, the court only enforces the agreement as is. It is not the judge's duty to set the settlement conditions for you. So it is best to research and determine the facts of the case and the best outcome a settlement agreement can provide. You may need a lawyer to help you draft the document.

What to ask for in a settlement agreement

As we have mentioned, settlement agreements work for all kinds of disputes. So what you include will depend on the issue you hope to settle.

In general, any a settlement agreement should ask for the following.

Determine the terms

When drafting a settlement agreement, you should ask that the opposing party agree to the settlement's terms. For instance, a debt collector can accept to withdraw a lawsuit. Let’s explore an example.

Example: XYZ debt collectors sued Dan. He knew that the debt was his and the amount was correct. But he also knew that he needed help to afford the total amount. So after filing his Answer with the court and sending a copy to XYZ's attorney, he used SoloSettle to propose a debt settlement. Dan asked that XYZ Collection accept a lump-sum payment of a percentage of his debt, withdraw the lawsuit, and mark the account as paid. The company agreed and drafted the debt settlement agreement with the conditions mentioned above. Dan can rest knowing he is free of collection calls and a stressful case.

The consideration

The consideration is the offer that ends the dispute. For instance, in a debt collection lawsuit, it is the amount of money you are offering. In a different type of dispute, it may not involve money; such as when you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree to split babysitting duties equally.

Suppose you are injured in a car accident and prefer to resolve the issue without a lawsuit. In the personal injury Settlement Agreement, you can ask the driver who hit you to pay $1,000 in medical bills (if that's the cost you incurred) and an additional $5,000 for loss of income during recovery.

SoloSuit has a proven history of helping consumers settle debt collection lawsuits for much less than they owe.

Use SoloSettle to settle a debt collection lawsuit fast.

Set a deadline for implementation.

You should state any deadlines for both parties taking or stopping specific actions.

For example, if you propose a debt settlement amount, mention the date you must make the payment.

Set the date of effectiveness

The settlement agreement typically releases one or both parties from a possible future action, such as a lawsuit. Therefore, you should mention the date when the contract goes into effect. Is it on the day both parties sign, or is it when the court dismisses the case?

Both parties should clearly understand and agree with the set dates.

Ask the other party to sign the agreement

Remember to sign and date the settlement agreement. You should also allow space for your opponent to sign and date. Any mediators or witnesses present can also sign, although this is usually unnecessary.

Debt settlement agreement example

Like other settlement agreements, a debt settlement agreement is a legal document that is filed into a debt collection lawsuit when the two parties have reached a consensus on how to resolve the dispute.

Below is an example of a debt settlement agreement in a South Carolina debt lawsuit:

Debt Settlement Agreement sample

Why should you consider a debt settlement agreement?

Debt settlement agreements can be a lifesaver if you are facing a debt collection lawsuit. They take away the stress, time, and money that come with court cases.

Many debt collectors are willing to settle a debt for less than the original amount owed.

However, before signing a settlement agreement, you need to be sure that you understand and agree with the terms. You should also state your demands and clearly explain the reason for the dispute, as shown in this sample debt settlement agreement.

Keep in mind that once the court dismisses the case, it is not under obligation to mediate between you and your opponent. The judge can only enforce the terms of the contract. So, only sign when you are satisfied.

You may need to speak with an attorney to get the legal advice you need. Or you can check out our article on How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement.

Settle your debt with SoloSettle..

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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