Many people have terrible visions in their minds when thinking about divorce. They expect to face a scary judge and a stressful trial. The truth is that, in New Jersey, the vast majority of divorce cases settle and they settle long before a trial begins. In fact, the courts in New Jersey greatly favor people who are divorcing to settle their own issues and work together to come up with an agreement that both husband and wife can live with not only at the time the agreement is signed, but also into the future. Remember, any marital settlement agreement will follow these ex-spouses around for a long time, especially if terms of the agreement discuss children.
So, how do you successfully negotiate a martial settlement agreement? Here are a few tips to help get you to a place where you are ultimately at peace with your marital settlement agreement:
Start divorce negotiations with an open mind
It is impossible to have successful negotiations with anyone if you enter the negotiations with an “all or nothing” mentality. No one looks at a marital settlement agreement as a 100% win. The agreement is a result of a little give and take on both sides. Without being willing to move at least somewhat on your position, you will never be able to work out a settlement agreement.
Begin talking early
If you and your spouse are able to sit down early in the divorce process and resolve at least some issues early in the game, that will free up both of you down the road for perhaps more lengthy negotiations. Also, if you work out the majority of your issues together, that will save you time and money later if you end up needing a professional mediator to assist you with the remaining issues you both may have.
Consider using a family law attorney
If you and your spouse are just at complete odds, perhaps using an experienced attorney or family law mediator to assist the negotiations will help you. There is a cost involved with using a professional; however, if you and your spouse cannot communicate, adding a third person experienced in these types of negotiations to act as your voice can not only facilitate the negotiations, but can also lower your stress level, making you even more able to clearly negotiate without feeling pressure.
Be honest and expect honesty
Neither you nor your soon-to-be ex can possibly negotiate without having all the necessary information. You must be honest and provide all information, including information about your salary and property so that your spouse can make informed decisions. By the same token, if you feel as though your spouse is not being forthcoming during the negotiations and is possibly hiding assets or income, you cannot make informed decisions. Consult with an attorney about how to pursue the information that you need to make negotiations fruitful.
Understand that nothing is a “win-win”
Both of you will feel as though you did not get everything that you wanted when the final marital settlement agreement is signed. That is natural. However, rest assured that you both were able to make decisions about your own lives and your children without needing the court system to do it for you. No one wants a stranger (the judge) to dictate the terms of the rest of their lives. You were able to put aside the emotion and work toward an agreement that is livable. That is no small feat.
If you or your spouse have filed for divorce, and you would like more information about negotiating an agreement or if you have any other question about your rights, please contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys or mediators.