Negotiating a Divorce Settlement
Initiating the divorce process, once the decision to end a marriage has been made, can quickly overwhelm many people. Divorce is unavoidably emotional, and adding in the often-mysterious legal process to achieve an uncomfortable end can be daunting. The traditional image of a bitter and protracted trial to resolve disputed issues does not help alleviate this natural trepidation. Negotiating a private settlement is more naturally associated with divorces that have no or few issues to resolve. However, this much less contentious method of working through disagreements is also available for couples with complex matters to sort out, and may offer a better alternative in the long-run, compared with the restraints of letting a judge decide the outcome.
Former power couple Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, who are likely to have a number of high-conflict issues, recently decided to take their divorce into private negotiations to avoid the spotlight of a public trial that serves as an example of the benefits of this process in hotly contested divorces. Consider the following information on how the negotiation process works, and important advantages this alternative has over litigation.
What Negotiation Looks Like
Most people are familiar with litigation, at least as depicted on television and in film, but may not have a clear picture of what negotiation entails — this process is designed to be confidential and private. Further, divorcing spouses have several forms of negotiation from which to choose: traditional, mediation and collaborative.
Traditional negotiation is conducted exclusively between attorneys through settlement conferences or the exchange of letters. This option is the most hands-off for the client, but does require effectively communicating goals and priorities so the attorney knows what to emphasize.
Mediation, which may be voluntary or Court-ordered, requires more involvement from the parties and is conducted and facilitated through a mediator. The mediator is present to help the parties understand their interests and the needs of their children, as well as formulate an agreement.
Mediators will meet with the parties jointly and separately to obtain an idea about potential points of conflict and the most important issues for each side. Both parties typically have attorneys to advise on the legal implications of any settlement and aid in communication with both the mediator and the other spouse.
Finally, collaborative divorce is the option most driven by participation of the parties, and is the least adversarial. Specially-trained attorneys and experts in mental health and finance work with the parties on keeping the lines of communication open and finding points of compromise. The parties directly negotiate with one another, in presence of their attorneys, in hopes of preserving or fostering a civil relationship between spouses post-divorce. This process, by leaving the spouses in complete control of the outcome, is often the most satisfying way to end a marriage, as long as there are no issues of domestic abuse or financial misconduct and each party is ready and will engage in open and honest conversations.
Advantage over Litigation
The primary advantage these options offer over litigation is the ability to craft an agreement that meets the needs of the parties and their families, which is often less restrictive than the result a Court would order. Judges typically approve private settlements, and incorporate them into the divorce decree, unless the terms appear plainly unfair.
Additionally, the details of the negotiation and the contents of the settlement agreement remain private and confidential, unlike litigation, which is a matter of public record. Further, these options are less expensive than litigation and take much less time. Finally, these alternate methods also avoid the emotional toll litigation takes on spouses and their children.
Discuss Your Case with an Illinois Divorce Attorney
Getting legal representation to become informed about your rights, and how to best approach ending your marriage, is a pivotal decision. Skilled Inverness family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson understands the gravity of the decisions you must make and is prepared to offer the legal counsel you need to emerge from this situation in the strongest possible position. Contact the law firm for a free initial consultation.