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Negotiating a Settlement Out of Court

Negotiating a Settlement Out of Court

Divorcing a spouse requires addressing a range of issues. You may have to determine whether one spouse will pay alimony to the other. If you have minor kids, you’ll also have to address such matters as child custody and child support.

The court can make decisions about these matters if necessary. However, it’s often preferable for all parties involved if the spouses can negotiate a settlement out of court.

How to Negotiate a Settlement Out of Court: Tips to Keep in Mind During Your Divorce

You need to strike a delicate balance when negotiating a divorce settlement. On the one hand, if you’re too uncompromising, you won’t be able to productively address significant issues. This can defeat the purpose of entering into negotiations in the first place.

However, you don’t want to make too many concessions. Being too flexible now can have long-term implications for everything from how often you get to see your kids to whether you pay or receive alimony.

Keep these points in mind when negotiating during the divorce process includes:

  • Identify the issues that matter most to you – Some degree of compromise will likely be necessary to negotiate an out-of-court divorce agreement that satisfies all parties. It’s wise to determine what issues are your priorities. You’ll feel more confident during negotiations if you know what issues you’re willing to compromise on.
  • Control your emotions – Yes, this can prove challenging. Divorce is a naturally emotional experience. However, it’s virtually never beneficial to let emotions influence your actions, words, or decisions when negotiating a divorce settlement. Controlling your emotions during negotiations will result in a more successful experience.
  • Don’t hide anything – Complying with all aspects of the divorce process is for the best in the long run. Hiding or wasting marital assets is detrimental to the spirit of cooperation required for successful negotiations. The other spouse may feel more comfortable ending negotiations and letting the court make critical decisions if they discover the misuse of marital assets. Additionally, a court typically won’t favor a spouse who engages in deceptive tactics instead of negotiating fairly.
  • Remain curious – You likely didn’t plan on getting a divorce when you got married. Thus, you may not thoroughly understand your rights. Asking questions and being curious throughout the process can help you learn everything you need to know to ensure successful and fair negotiations.

Hire a lawyer. A lawyer can help you navigate the process and respond to various complications and circumstances that might arise during a divorce.

What If Your Spouse Refuses to Negotiate Divorce Settlement Terms?

a person negotiating a settlement wearing wedding ring on their finger

You may be genuinely willing to negotiate a divorce settlement. However, your spouse might be less cooperative.

Options to consider in these circumstances include:

  • Mediation – In some jurisdictions, the court requires a couple to enter into mediation first when they can’t successfully negotiate a divorce settlement. A mediator is a neutral third party whose role involves facilitating discussions between parties who can’t reach agreements on matters like divorce terms. Through mediation, you may be able to address issues in a more productive way.
  • Use your attorney – Your attorney can negotiate with your spouse’s attorney. Neither of you need to be directly involved in the negotiations. The lawyers can bring suggestions back to their clients and can work toward a settlement both parties can live with.
  • Default divorce – When you plan on divorcing a spouse, you typically need to serve them with an official notice. The amount of time they have to respond to the notice can vary depending on the jurisdiction. If they don’t respond within a certain time frame, they may essentially be ignoring the divorce and acting as if it’s not happening. The filing spouse could request a default divorce in these circumstances.

You may have to let the court decide certain matters if your spouse technically acknowledges the divorce but won’t compromise during negotiations. On the one hand, allowing the court to exercise control over these matters is risky, as it deprives you of control you may have had during negotiations. However, if you’re cooperative while your spouse isn’t, the court may be more inclined to be generous with you.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer

You don’t have to negotiate a divorce settlement alone. Hiring a qualified attorney can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing a legal professional is on your side. At The Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq., you’ll find a New Jersey divorce lawyer prepared to defend your rights. Learn more about what our firm can do for you by contacting us online or calling (732) 898-2378 today.

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