Whatever disagreements may have attributed to your impending divorce, your goal should be to forge a divorce agreement that both parties can live with over time. The goal is not to be punitive; rather, it is to find a way to build new and separate lives where you both will thrive without bitterness or retribution. Keeping that in mind, here are some tips on creating a good divorce agreement:
Understand your finances. If your spouse has always handled the financial stuff, it’s time to get educated about your financial picture. If you need help understanding them, hire a financial advisor to go over everything with you.
Know your legal rights and responsibilities. This is especially important if you have kids, since courts will follow the child support laws unless there is a really good reason not to do so. The court will expect you to come up with a parenting schedule that allows both parents to have a relationship with the children, and they will want the overall divorce agreement to be fair. Your divorce lawyer can prepare you for what the law requires and how the system works.
Figure out what you need and want. You will need to pull together a budget and a balance sheet based on what you need for sure. And you may even get some of the things you want. You just need to be able to discern between the two, and prioritize your needs and wants. Don’t expect to get everything on your list; you won’t. Just make sure you know what are the most important things so you can negotiate for what you need.
Know what your spouse needs and wants. Not only is it important to know what you need and want, it’s also vital you know the same for your spouse. The more insight you have into what he or she wants and needs, the more likely it is that you will be successful in settling your case on terms you can both live with.
Know your bottom line. There may be some things you consider non-negotiable, and if your spouse won’t settle on the terms you can live with, you will need to be prepared to take things to court. But before you decide on your bottom line, you must know if it is realistic. If you’re not legally entitled to something but want to stand firm on it anyway, it will be impossible for you to negotiate a fair agreement.
Be flexible. If you can keep an open mind, you will find that your settlement negotiations go much smoother (and quicker!). Be willing to consider alternatives — if you’re not sure what kind of alternatives you have, ask your lawyer — that will provide a good outcome for all involved. Although it may be difficult, consider that your spouse may have some good ideas. The more options you have to choose from, the more likely it is you will reach an agreement that works for everyone.
It is important to partner with your family law attorney so that he or she has what is necessary to be your zealous advocate. Partnering with your Koenig│Dunne family law attorneys will help you achieve what matters most to you during this important process.