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Negotiating a Divorce Agreement With My Spouse

  • Wade Christiansen
  • Mon, 09/18/2017 - 10:34am

When two people marry, they make commitments to each other and dream of creating and maintaining a happy family.  The family unit is ulitimately what brings joy and stability to the spouses and the children of the marriage.  If the foundations of love, trust and respect break apart, the spouses should do everything in their power to solve these problems and rebuild the  happiness that they once shared.  If these foundations are not repaired, the relationship ends in divorce.  If your spouse has given up on the relationship and a divorce is inevitable, you find yourself in the difficult position of having to negotiate the terms of the divorce.  Spouses are often overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of having to go to Court and argue about painful and embarrassing issues.  Today's blog will provide some tips for the successful negotiation of the terms of divorce, so that contested litigation can be avoided.

First, consult with an experienced family law attorney.  In your meeting, the attorney will be able to advise you of your rights in the divorce and the various issues to be addressed.

Second, schedule a specific date and time to meet with your spouse.  Both parties need advance notice so that they can prepare for the meeting and not feel blind-sided.

Third, outline the various issues to be addressed.  If there are children of the marriage, the parties will need to discuss conservatorship, rights and duties of each parent, visitation schedules and child support.  Spouses that own property need to discuss an appropriate division of the assets and debts.

Fourth, meet at a restaurant.  While this may seem awkward, there are benefits to meeting over dinner.  Voices will not be raised because you are in a public place with a relaxed atmosphere, and you will have a captive audience for about an hour.  The children should not be present, and well-meaning friends and relatives should not be present.  Just the two of you.

Fifth, listen, listen, listen.  Your spouse will appreciate the opportunity to be heard and understood, and listening will provide a much more productive atmosphere for resolving any disputed issues.

Sixth, don't focus on what's "fair".  Spouses in a divorce situation can rarely agree on what is "fair", "right" or even "in the best interest of the children". Rather, focus on what "works", and be flexible on what you offer, giving due consideration for your spouse.

Seventh, avoid discussing fault in the breakup of the marriage.  To the extent possible, this should be a business meeting, with the focus on the future rather than the past. 

Eighth, don't be paralyzed by thinking that you need to resolve every single issue or that you need to write and sign a formal agreement.  Attorneys can write up the agreement later with appropriate legal language.  For now, just work together to see if you can reach an informal verbal agreement.  If you're not able to resolve the issues but are making progress, agree to meet again later. 

Spouses in a divorce can often reach an agreement that will avoid contested litigation.  Such an agreement will avoid risks to both parties and the cost of litigation.  Additionally, an agreement can be tailor-fit to your unique circumstances that will avoid the Court's typical "cookie-cutter" approach.  If you are in a divorce situation, you should begin by consulting with a competent family law attorney.  The attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience representing spouses in divorce cases.  Contact Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio to arrange to meet with a family lawyer today.

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