Negotiating a Fair Divorce Settlement
When parents decide to divorce, the process consists of more than simply deciding who will move out and how time with their children will be shared. The heart of any divorce decree is the settlement that outlines how a couple will address support, property division and child custody. Settling these issues is pivotal to concluding this process. However, due to the sensitive nature, these issues are some of the most difficult matters a person will ever consider.
Courts can be tasked with creating a settlement; however, they will be restricted by the confines of the law and the Judge’s limited knowledge about the parties’ needs and expectations. A better alternative is to negotiate a private settlement agreement that serves to keep the details of the divorce confidential and grants spouses more control over the outcome. Couples tend to underestimate how much work these endeavors require, as well as the approach most likely to lead to a fair and workable agreement.
What Goes into a Divorce Settlement?
The complexity of a divorce agreement is controlled by the number of issues that must be addressed and the level of contention between the parties. For obvious reasons, child custody and property division tend to be the most involved matters in divorce negotiations. Therefore, understanding the components that can inform how best to decide the issues will help ensure that nothing essential is missed or ignored.
For child custody, parents realize that time-sharing and decision-making responsibilities must be divided; still, additional factors and possibilities also need to be addressed. Specifically, the parenting plan should discuss how a relocation will be handled, how future disagreements will be resolved, and how hot button issues — i.e. religion, extracurricular activities, etc. — will be agreed upon. The more specific and detailed a child custody plan is from the beginning, the less uncertainty parents will have going forward, which should cut down on conflict.
The greatest concern with regard to property division is typically obtaining a full and accurate account of all assets and liabilities from the other party, especially if one spouse is more knowledgeable about the household finances. Further, in addition to obvious assets such as retirement accounts, bank accounts and real estate, household furnishings and other personal effects also need to be divided.
Getting the Outcome You Want
Determining what is a fair settlement is rarely as easy as crunching numbers. Factors that influenced the marriage, and the circumstances of how property was accumulated, will have a significant impact on what makes sense in a given situation. Illinois law uses equitable distribution — a model that looks to divide marital property according to what is most fair — which, in practice, amounts to a 50/50 split in most cases. However, couples privately negotiating the terms of a settlement are not entirely bound by this standard. While Courts will not approve settlements that are inherently unfair, most agreements are accepted.
The key to a good outcome is prioritizing the issues that are most important and deciding which ones to concede. In other words, spouses need to avoid an all or nothing attitude that will hamper an attorney’s ability to form a workable agreement, and will likely result in protracted and expensive litigation to resolve.
Talk to an Illinois Divorce Attorney
Divorce is complicated and emotional, but an experienced divorce attorney can take the legal process off your shoulders. Talented Hoffman estates family law lawyer Nicholas Richardson is a skilled client advocate who knows how to obtain a fair result with minimal delay and conflict. Contact the law firm to schedule a free initial consultation.