Settlement Topics to Consider

Posted on: January 7th, 2014

Divorce requires a settlement document that both parties will have to approve then the document is signed and approved by the court.

Keep in mind that divorce is all about loss and the settlement process bares that truth with full force. You divvy up everything – nothing goes untouched. I prepare clients to anticipate loss-related emotions and strategize plans to manage their reactions as well as their spouse’s.

Every settlement negotiation has hot spots that cause friction. Choose an attorney/lawyer in whom you have confidence to negotiate on your behalf and notify him/her of your likely hot spots in advance. Know what your negotiable and non-negotiable are and keep your focus.

Below is the list I review with my clients prior to their initial meeting with legal representation. I want my clients to be prepared to address the issues that concern them most and to make certain their attorneys understand their preferences.

This list contains standard divorce settlement topics. It is in no way exhaustive, but it does provide a guideline for you to begin preparing for your settlement negotiations.

  1. Division of Assets
    • Home(s)
    • When is the best time to list the matrimonial home for sale?
    • What if one of us wants the keep the house?
    • Furnishings
    • Jewelry, paintings, etc
    • Vehicles
    • Boat
    • Savings
  2. Division of Income
    • Alimony/ Spousal Support
      • Adjustments of alimony obligations
      • Termination of alimony
      • How long do I get alimony or spousal support
      • How is my alimony or spousal support determined
      • Adverse Change of Circumstances: protects the one paying alimony should something happen to hinder his/her ability to earn as much.
    • Verification of earned income
  3. Health Insurance
    • Health/Dental/Visual/Orthodontic
    • Uninsured medical expenses
    • How is this paid?
  4. Life Insurance
    • Existing plans
    • New plans
  5. Retirement Accounts
  6. Custody
    • Parenting Coordinator: a specific person (trained) is identified to use as needed or reasonably requested by either party to facilitate and mediate any parenting issues – I find a lot of peace having this person to rely on if we disagree.
    • School, Medical Records
    • Death of either party
    • Tuition
      • Private school
      • College
        • College expenses
        • Travel
        • Living
      • Children’s education: they should receive best education available
      • Tutors
      • After School Activities/Sports
      • Emancipation
        • Age
        • Marriage of child
        • Military Service
        • College
        • Employment
    • Travel outside of state or country
    • Relocation
    • Notification of illness
    • Religion
  7. Holidays/Vacations/Birthdays/Weekends
    • Specify division
      • Alternating
      • Setting times
  8. Tax — how to file this year and if divorce is settled mid year
  9. Joint Indebtedness
  10. Married vs. Maiden Name
  11. Miscellaneous: pets, cemetery plots, collections
  12. THERE ARE NO ORAL AGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE PARTIES.
  13. You should not sign a settlement agreement unless you consult your Lawyer.

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