Maximizing Settlement Opportunities / by Cassandra Hearn

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The decision to get divorced is one that carries with it enormous implications.  The lives of both spouses will be dramatically changed by the divorce.  Property and debts must be divided and if the parties share children, a custody and visitation order should be created.  Moreover, the court will also have to decide on child support and, where applicable, spousal support.  If the spouses are able to craft a divorce settlement agreement, the process will usually finish much faster and with less cost to both sides.  Both parties should concentrate on maximizing the opportunities they have to settle their divorce.

First, spouses should be sensitive to the timing of attempting to craft a settlement agreement.  If the parties try to get the matter settled too quickly, it may be that the parties’ attorneys have not yet had to opportunity to determine the proper value of the parties’ assets and debts, thereby creating an inaccurate or incomplete division of community property.  In addition, creating a settlement too quickly can have implications for support where one party is currently unemployed.  It may be wise to give the unemployed spouse a little time to try to find a job so that spousal or child support is accurately determined using the spouse’s correct income amount.

Next, spouses should also do their best to try to remain calm and keep an emotional separation from the divorce, although doing so is difficult.  Looking at the divorce through the lens of hurt feelings and anger will make it more difficult to come to a settlement, and may make the spouses focus more on “winning” or hurting the other party instead of creating a reasonable settlement offer.  This will only waste time and resources and make a settlement less likely to happen in the long run.  If one or both parties are having a hard time letting go of the resentment and cannot communicate civilly, it may be prudent to have settlement discussions pass through the attorneys only.

Finally, parties should listen carefully to their respective attorneys.  Having an attorney does not mean that a spouse cannot settle or must go to a final hearing on the divorce.  An attorney will have experience in crafting settlement agreements and will have a good idea as to what type of settlement agreement is reasonable.  A skilled attorney can maximize settlement opportunities by guiding the client as to what type of settlement is realistic and would work in that particular case.

Settlement negotiations in divorce can be a delicate matter, and you need an experienced attorney to help you. We have experience in helping our clients craft reasonable settlement agreements, and look forward to talking with you about your case. Call us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation.