As we continue our discussion regarding the basics of divorce letter-by-letter, we arrive at the letter “N”, which brings us to the topic of negotiation. With the overwhelming majority of divorce cases settling prior to trial, the negotiation process associated with reaching settlement on issues such as custody of your children, financial support and the division of assets should not be overlooked. In working with our clients through every step of the divorce negotiation process, we have compiled the following tips, which we find greatly increases the likelihood of settling your case without a trial.
When meeting with clients during an initial divorce consultation, we often spend a considerable amount of time debunking various myths in which their co-worker or family member told them about their “rights” under New Jersey divorce law. It goes without saying that prior to entering into any type of negotiation relating to the financial dissolution of your marriage, or more importantly, child-related issues, you should work with an experienced matrimonial attorney to identify legal rights concerning issues that may arise in your divorce. Every divorce case is different. You need to ensure that you are receiving reliable advice from counsel on issues that are relevant to your family. By working collaboratively with your attorney, you will be able to understand the parameters of how various issues in your case should settle and establish realistic expectations, both of which are invaluable tools in a successful negotiation.
Understand Your Finances
It is a common for one spouse to have a greater understanding of the family finances, as they were historically assigned the responsibility of paying the household bills. While this model may have worked well for your family during the marriage, when it comes to a successful divorce negotiation, it is absolutely necessary that both sides are on the same page. Do not be afraid to ask for all account information and other documentation to verify balances. If your spouse is awarded various stock options or grants through their employment, it may be a good idea to engage the services of a financial professional to assist with an analysis prior to entering negotiations. Lastly, ensure that you exchange up-to-date and accurate financial information with your spouse. For example, due to market fluctuations, relying on last year’s 401(k) balance does not ensure an accurate division of this asset. With updated account information just one website click or phone call away, this is a worthwhile exercise.
Prioritize Your Goals
With the litany of issues that arise through a divorce, ranging in importance from who gets the silverware to the sale of marital residence, it is critical that prior to beginning the negotiation process, you identify what you need for you (and your children) to move forward during the next chapter of your life. As stated previously, every case is different and there surely is not a “cookie cutter” approach to reaching a fair settlement. I have found that clients who have the greatest success in divorce negotiations enter the process with a clear list of prioritized goals. Such goals could include securing more retirement assets, maximizing cash flow or maintaining the house after the divorce. Regardless of your circumstance, working with your attorney to prioritize your goals heading into the settlement discussions will keep you focused on what is important and not allow you to get caught up in a never ending disagreement over who keeps the Christmas decorations or the softest bed pillow.
The attorneys at Ulrichsen Rosen & Freed LLC can assist you every step of the way through a successful divorce negotiation. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.