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Negotiating a Settlement Out of Court

Divorcing a spouse means ending a legal relationship. Thus, before finalizing the divorce, you will need to address a range of issues, such as division of assets.

You could allow a court to handle these issues for you. However, doing so may be costly and time-consuming. It also deprives you of the opportunity to exercise some control over the outcome of your divorce.

You may be better off negotiating a settlement. Doing so is wise if your spouse is willing to negotiate in good faith.

Matters That You Can Address During Divorce Negotiations

The specific matters you address during negotiations will depend on such factors as your priorities, whether you have children, etc. Common examples of issues you may address during negotiations include:

  • Alimony
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Division of assets

Negotiating a settlement on these issues is beneficial for many reasons.

  • You can’t be certain a judge will side with you when making critical decisions. Even if you present a strong case, there’s no way to guarantee how a judge will address these matters. Negotiating gives you more freedom to explore arrangements you may be happier with.
  • Negotiating a settlement may allow you to resolve a divorce more quickly than you could if you let the court make decisions. That said, you should never rush through a divorce if doing so means making unreasonable compromises.
  • You and your spouse may take greater ownership over the divorce settlement if you negotiated it yourselves. Thus, you may both be more likely to abide by its terms.

How to Negotiate a Settlement Out of Court

Which negotiation strategies you use in a divorce will depend on your situation. Factors that may impact your approach range from how willing your spouse is to negotiate to how many issues you need to address before you can finalize the divorce.

However, general tips to keep in mind when negotiating an out-of-court settlement with a spouse include:

  • Be willing to compromise – You may need to be flexible to a certain extent during negotiations. If you draw a line in the sand on an issue before negotiations even begin, you’re signaling to your spouse, their lawyer, and any other parties involved in the divorce that you’re unwilling to work with them toward an outcome that satisfies everyone. It can be difficult to negotiate when you present this attitude from the start. Don’t make unreasonable compromises, but don’t indicate that you’re unwilling to compromise at all.
  • Don’t dispose of assets – You might be tempted to act rashly or angrily during a divorce. For example, you might try to destroy, spend, or otherwise dispose of assets before the divorce can be finalized. Don’t make this mistake. You’ll be unable to negotiate from a strong position going forward if you take these actions. In addition, a judge will look unfavorably on such actions if you do go to court.
  • Try to be objective – It can be very difficult to genuinely see the divorce from your spouse’s perspective right now. However, attempting to do so is essential. You may find negotiating a settlement less stressful when you remember your spouse is a person with the same human feelings and motivations as you.
  • Consider alternate dispute resolution methods – You don’t have to go to court immediately when negotiations stall. There may be other methods for addressing key issues. Mediation is just one example. In mediation, a neutral third party facilitates discussions on areas of contention. Working through a mediator may be preferable to negotiating directly with a spouse.
  • Be transparent – Just as you shouldn’t dispose of assets, you also shouldn’t hide any. Similarly, it’s important to answer your spouse’s questions honestly and to provide them with any relevant information or documentation they request.

What if a Spouse Refuses to Negotiate Divorce?

Negotiating a Settlement Out of Court

If your spouse refuses to negotiate a divorce settlement, you’ll likely have to allow a judge to oversee the divorce proceedings. Your lawyer will present your case to the court and explain your stance about which possessions you should retain, how child custody and support should be handled, and any other subjects that require adjudication.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer

Divorce negotiations can be overwhelming. Luckily, this isn’t a task you need to handle alone.

Enlist the help of a qualified divorce lawyer. At Adams Law Firm, a Katy divorce attorney is on hand to guide you throughout all stages of the divorce process. Learn more about what we can do for you by calling us at (281) 391-9237 or contacting us online to schedule your case review today.

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