When couples are preparing to divorce, many uncertainties exist. In addition to the emotional pain and anxiety of the uncertain future, spouses must consider the practical realities of life and make personal and financial ajustments to those realities. If the spouses are able to communicate, a very important step in preparing for the future is to negotiate effectively with the spouse regarding the substantive decisions to be made. Specifically, decisions must be made pertaining to custody, visitation, child support, health insurance and division of community property and debts. Often, spouses simply place these matters in the hands of an attorney. Sometimes, this is the only way. However, in many cases, the family is best served by the spouses simply discussing these matters together to try to reach resolution. Today's blog will summarize some important aspects of these negotiations, with the hope that negotiations will result in an agreement and avoid the misunderstandings, confusion, hostility, delay and cost of a contested divorce.
Plan a Meeting
While this may seem obvious, some spouses simply try to corner the other to discuss these matters without the benefit of advance preparation. Both parties should have sufficient advance notice of the meeting to gather documents, think about what terms are important, and prepare emotionally. Neither party should feel blindsided by a sudden, unexpected meeting.
Meet at a Restaurant
While this may seem awkward, it is important that you meet away from the home and children. In addition to keeping the kids out of the middle of an adult discussion, meeting at a restaurant also has the benefit of avoiding either spouse walking out early, and avoiding raised voices.
So much can be gained by simply listening to your partner. Listen carefully and respectfully. Even if what you hear is negative, your spouse gets the message that you are trying to understand. Even if you are not able to reach an agreement, at least you understand what is important to your spouse and can try to factor that into future negotiations.
No Written Agreement Required
While the formalities of the agreement will at some point need to be memorialized in writing to be legally binding, neither spouse should feel compelled to get a written, signed agreement. Both spouses should have the benefit of thinking about the proposal more. Also, most spouses don't fully understand all of the details that need to be incorporated into the written agreement, and don't know how to properly word the written agreement so that it is binding. If and only if both spouses wish, the basic terms can be written on a napkin so that both remember what was discussed.
Negotiating an uncontested divorce avoids emotional difficulties, escalating hostility and financial expense. The attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience guiding spouses through their negotiations. For additional information, please contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio.