Keeping the process of negotiating a Separation Agreement amicable.
If you and your spouse are able to keep things reasonably friendly, you can negotiate the terms of a Separation Agreement (also called a Marital Settlement Agreement or Separation and Property Settlement Agreement). This Agreement is a legal document that outlines the terms of your divorce settlement.
Whether you and your spouse negotiate the terms yourselves or with attorneys, you need the advice of an attorney who can discuss:
- What should be included in your Property Settlement Agreement (Separation Agreement)
- Strategies for reaching a fair settlement
- Possible different solutions to reach an amicable result
The attorney for one of you will then draft an Agreement that holds up under the law. The attorney for the other person will review it.
If you reach an agreement on the issues through an out-of-court settlement, then you can present the signed Marital Settlement Agreement to the court as a basis for a simple uncontested divorce. This process benefits both of you and, if you have children, it also benefits them. Only you and your spouse know what is best for your family.This keeps the decision-making in your hands rather than leaving it up to a Judge.
Negotiating a Separation Agreement can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you keep the process amicable and achieve a successful outcome.
1. Keep emotions in check.
Even though this can be an emotional process, try to get yourself to a place where you can keep the discussions about what went wrong out of your conversations. This is can lead to unnecessary friction that makes it very difficult to work toward a settlement. If you find that emotions are getting the best of you, a DC separation agreement lawyer can assist you in managing your stress and focusing on the essential issues.
2. List your Assets and Debts.
Make a list of all your family’s financial assets and debts. This will help to frame the conversations and negotiations about how to divide the assets and debts in a fair manner. Remember that all assets accumulated during your marriage (other than inheritance and gifts that are kept separately titled) are marital property. This is true even if you keep assets in a separately-titled account.
3. List Custody and Child Support Issues.
Think about the type of custody schedule that might work best for you, your spouse, and your children when you are living in separate households. Consider what financial needs you will have in taking care of your children and providing for their needs and activities.
4. Know Your Goals.
Think about your own goals in reaching a fair outcome. Decide what is most important to you and where you think you might be able to compromise. There may be issues that are more important to you than your spouse and vice versa. An experienced DC separation agreement lawyer can help you frame the issues and talk through possible options for negotiating an agreement that both you and your spouse feel is fair.
How Do You Know What Is Fair?
Since you and your spouse may have different views as to what is fair, it is best to speak with an experienced DC Marital Separation Agreement attorney so you understand your rights and obligations and what to consider in dividing marital property.
As long as you are both willing to compromise you will be able to move on in a shorter period of time and with less expenditure of family funds than if you leave it to the court to decide your futures. This is especially important if you have children to continue to co-parent.