When most people get married, they are unable to envision going through a divorce. Afterall, who would marry someone knowing their marriage is doomed to fail? Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult, expensive and stressful things you will ever do. For this reason, many couples try to settle their differences outside of the courtroom. They instinctively know that divorce settlements are more amicable and provide a relatively fast and fair resolution compared to litigation.
Divorce is hurtful and messy in the best of circumstances. You and your spouse are mature enough to realize that the less you fight, the easier it will be for the both of you. You still care about your spouse- the two of you just cannot be together any longer. You have sat down together and discussed your future. You have actually come up with a plan. You both want to be fair. You just need someone to put the agreement down on paper.
An uncontested divorce is a divorce where the parties agree to the terms of the judgment even before the divorce paperwork is filed. The advantage is that the parties can avoid litigation; neither party ever appears in court, and because there is no litigation, the cost is substantially less. The disadvantage is that it requires each party to compromise. In order to obtain a settlement, each party must be flexible and make realistic demands from the other party.
An uncontested divorce is not appropriate for everyone. If you have a large estate, complicated legal issues, have an unreasonable spouse, or are a victim of domestic violence, an uncontested divorce is not for you. In order to qualify for an uncontested divorce, the parties must agree on all the terms of the divorce. This includes agreeing on entirely on each of the following issues: child support, spousal support, child custody, child visitation, attorney fees, division of property and division of debts.
The parties’ agreement need not be in writing. It is the job of the attorney to write up and finalize the paperwork. The attorney will also help you determine what information and documents are necessary to be included in the court paperwork. The attorney will then prepare and file the court documents, help you arrange for service of the documents, and coordinate the signing of the final documents. Since the papers are all prepared in the attorney’s office and then filed with the court, there is no reason for either party to ever set foot in a courtroom.
If you and your spouse are able to reach a fair divorce settlement, you will save thousands of dollars in legal fees. By negotiating a settlement with the help of a skilled attorney, you will have the flexibility to make decisions that work best for you and your family, including who will live in the home after the divorce and what will happen to your children.
What Is a Divorce Settlement?
Whenever a couple gets a divorce, they must agree on what will happen before the divorce can be finalized. All divorce judgments must include certain court orders, such as:
- Child Custody- who the children will live with
- Visitation- when the children will see each parent
- Child Support– who will pay how much for support of the children
- Spousal Support– who will pay how much and for how long to help the other financially
- Division of Personal Property- who will keep what items
- Division of Real Property- who will keep the house
- Division of Savings- how will any money get divided
- Division of Retirement- how will pensions and retirement be divided
- Division of Debts- who will take what debts
- Attorney Fees– who will pay for the attorneys
If a couple can negotiate a fair settlement with the help of their attorneys, they will be able to reach a divorce settlement relatively quickly and with minimal expense. Negotiation will allow the couple to avoid having to appear in court. The entire divorce process can be handled in a lawyer’s office. This is sometimes referred to as an uncontested divorce or a negotiated divorce. Our skilled attorneys can guide you towards a divorce settlement that is fair and in your best interest. Not only do divorce settlements produce better results, they will reduce your stress level and allow you to remain in control of your own life.
Before You Negotiate
There is no sense in wasting your time in negotiations if you know from the outset that it will not result in a fair divorce settlement. Before you decide to try to negotiate:
- Get Accurate Financial Records. The biggest mistake divorcing spouses make is being in the dark about finances when they are negotiating the terms of their divorce. Before you begin to negotiate your divorce settlement, make sure you have a clear financial picture of your situation. This can be done by having your attorney help you obtain copies of your important financial records, including a list of all assets owned by you and/or your spouse, all debts held in you or your spouse’s name, and accurate information about each party’s income.
- Decide if Negotiation is the Right Strategy. Negotiation is not appropriate for every couple. For example, if there is domestic violence in the home, one spouse is unreasonable, or one spouse is hiding assets, it will be impossible to reach a fair agreement with your spouse. Attempting to negotiate under these circumstances may cost you needless time and money.
- Make Sure Both Sides are Objective. In order to make negotiation successful, both sides must be willing to treat the divorce as a business decision. Oftentimes, couples are emotionally attached to a home they cannot afford or are unrealistic in their expectations. Both sides must be willing to and follow the advice of their attorneys.
- Make Sure Both Sides are Flexible. Negotiations involve the give-and-take of each party. Each side must be willing to give up something less important in order to gain something more important. If you or your spouse are not able to compromise and be reasonable, engaging the services of a divorce attorney to negotiate a settlement is a waste of your resources.
Things to Consider When Negotiating
When negotiating a divorce settlement, many things must be taken into account. These include:
- Who is going to remain in the house
- The tax ramifications of your divorce settlement
- How debt will be paid off
- How a business will be divided
- Your future expenses based upon an accurate budget
- Who the children will live with
- Whether spousal support will be paid
- How much spousal support will be and when it will end
What Happens if a Divorce Settlement Cannot be Reached?
If a couple, through the help of their skilled attorneys, are unable to come negotiate a divorce settlement out of court, they must have the judge decide the outcome of their case through litigation. When analyzing whether you can reach a divorce settlement, try to take the emotion out of your divorce and treat your situation objectively. While divorce litigation is frequently necessary, do not underestimate how stressful and costly it can be. Litigating your divorce takes away all power to make decisions from you and places your life in the hands of a stranger. If you cannot agree, a judge will listens to evidence and arguments and make orders which will profoundly affect you and your family’s future.
Divorce attorneys are extremely expensive. Litigation can be financially ruinous. It is important that you fully explore settlement options before deciding to litigate, because litigation is risky. If you are unable reach a divorce settlement with your spouse, make sure you hire our firm to help you protect your assets and ensure the best possible outcome of your case. Call us now to get started.