If it can save you time and money to settle your divorce, would that make a difference? Most people will agree that time and money are top concerns during a divorce. And, if there’s a way to save either time or money during a divorce, it is worth some considering.
How do you save time and money in a divorce?
The simple answer is that you reach an agreement with your spouse. You have to look at litigation and going to trial as a last resort. Both litigation and trial can be expensive and both can be time-consuming. Not to mention you and your spouse are leaving it in the judge’s hands to make the final decision if you cannot come to an agreement. Trial and litigation can mean less control since there is no way to know for sure how your judge will rule. If you and your spouse come to an agreement regarding your children and your finances you could wind up only having one appearance in court to simply to enter your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. On the other hand, a highly litigated divorce could take over a year to finalize.
How to Work Towards a Divorce Settlement
Take the time to think about all the issues that need to be resolved and then prioritize them.
Make a list. What is most important and what is least important.
If you were to settle your divorce, what would the ideal divorce settlement look like?
What does the worst-case scenario look like?
What is a result you could live with?
Get comfortable with all of these potential outcomes and then prioritize which issues mean the most to you and work from there. Don’t spend too much time arguing over the little things when you have already determined they are minor issues. Just focus on your biggest goals.
Considering Child-related Issues in Your Settlement
Do you have children? If so, who will they primarily reside with? Where do you plan on living after the divorce? Can you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse come together for the sake of the children to make joint decisions regarding the most important parts of their lives going forward (education/healthcare, etc.)? If you have children they are going to be your number one concern because they are most important in this process. In fact, the Court wants issues regarding your children to be resolved within a certain timeframe. It’s the law.
Children need stability. It’s best to focus on these child-related issues before moving forward to financial issues since most parents can agree that their children’s best interests come before anything else.
Financial Aspects to Settle Your Divorce
Once the children are taken care of the financial aspect of the divorce needs to be resolved. What are the issues that need to be decided? Do assets need to be divided? Is spousal maintenance an issue to resolve? Child Support? Is there debt that must be addressed?
Tips to Help You Work Towards Settlement
Tip 1: Before attempting settlement, understand the law and seek legal advice.
You want to at least understand the big picture before discussing settlement. Make sure you understand the divorce process. Speak to an attorney to get insight on the reasonableness of your positions.
Tip 2: Get in the right mindset to discuss settlement.
Many people find it very helpful to have a therapist during a divorce. That way emotional needs are separated from legal issues. Settlement discussions are a time to discuss legal issues that need to be resolved. These are the issues that the Judge will decide if you do not reach an agreement. The Judge is not going to be interested in why you are divorcing since Illinois is a no-fault state.
Tip 3: See if your spouse is open to discussing settlement and if not be open to the idea of mediation.
If you run into problems trying to discuss the legal issues with your spouse, look into mediation. This can be a great tool when divorcing spouses need assistance communicating to reach an agreement. Not everyone knows how to explain themselves and not everyone knows how to listen. Mediation is great in situations where both spouses are serious about resolving their legal issues on their own.
Tip 4: When it comes time to discuss settlement remember to be open to negotiating.
Remember that settlement can come at any stage of the divorce process. In the best case scenario, you have an agreement before a petition is even filed but do not be discouraged if that is not the case in your divorce.
Settlement can be reached before the first court date, after court-ordered mediation, after discovery is exchanged, after a pre-trial conference, before trial, etc.
In most cases, if you want a settlement you have to be able to compromise and you have to be reasonable in your negotiating. In an ideal world you get everything you want but in the real world, you have to give to take. This all goes back to prioritizing again. Get an idea of your spouse’s position and how they have prioritized the issues. If an issue is agreed to move on to the next. The more issues that you resolve by agreement the less time and money will be required to finalize your divorce.
Be sure to consult with a knowledgeable divorce attorney, especially before finalizing a divorce settlement. Contact Anderson & Boback to speak with one of our family law attorneys so you can discuss how to approach or settle your divorce.