A divorcing couple may end their divorce by going to trial or by negotiating a marital settlement agreement. California courts tend to prefer the latter. If the decisions are left up to a judge, assets and debt will be split as close to 50-50 as possible. Parties who negotiate a settlement have a little more freedom, as long as they can reach an agreement.
It may be in your best interests to negotiate rather than going to trial. Here are a few tips that may give you a better chance of negotiating your marital settlement agreement.
Be Open and Honest with Your Attorney
Your lawyer represents your interests in the negotiation process. It may be easier for your attorney to reach agreements that work for you if he or she knows all the facts.
For example, Lila and Jake began discussing their settlement agreement. During the negotiations, Lila’s attorney learned that she had misrepresented her income, her education, and her employment status. These surprises put Lila’s attorney in an awkward position, one that hindered the negotiation process.
Look at the Big Picture
The term “choose your battles” comes to mind. Only push for the things that really matter – arguing over small, relatively insignificant details wastes everyone’s time and energy.
The next tip may help:
Check Your Emotions at the Door (if possible)
Acknowledge that divorce is usually an emotional time, even if you want the divorce. Life is changing in a big way, and you still have to get through the final steps of negotiating your marital settlement agreement and getting the final divorce decree.
However, negotiating is difficult when emotions are high. Try to stay calm and focused.
This not the time to exact revenge on your spouse. This is a time to review disclosures and discovery materials, determine community property and debt, then come up with an agreement that fits.
Our divorcing couple, Lila and Jack, had a difficult time in negotiations. Lila would not decrease her spousal support and child support demands, although she knew Jack was on disability. Jack insisted on full custody, although he was living in a one bedroom apartment. Lila and Jack need to review their circumstances and come up with reasonable, workable solutions.