Divorce Settlement Negotiations
The Carson Law Firm can offer legal help in divorce settlement negotiations. Book an appointment with us today for further discussion.
What Are Divorce Settlement Negotiations?
If you’re going through a divorce and want to end things amicably, you could consider reaching a divorce settlement with your (soon-to-be-ex) spouse.
A divorce settlement is a written contract stipulating specific terms binding on you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Such settlements offer multiple benefits and can benefit you if you do not want private details of your marriage exposed to public scrutiny during the divorce court process or want more control over the resolution of sensitive issues such as child custody or maintenance (alimony).
Once formed, the divorce settlement agreement can be enforced in court in the same way a court judgment is enforced, so you do not need to worry about the possibility of non-compliance by your spouse.
The terms of your divorce settlement will depend on the circumstances of your case and the needs or wants of you and your spouse. Because you both want different things, you would need to deliberate on the necessary issues and come to an agreement on each one. This deliberation process is known as divorce settlement negotiations.
The negotiation process could be tricky depending on who you’re dealing with. If you fail to take the right steps, you could end up with an unfavorable settlement agreement. This guide explains how divorce settlement negotiations work in Missouri and shares some ideas that could help you secure your interests during the process to ensure a satisfactory outcome.
Issues That Can Be Resolved Through Divorce Settlement Negotiations
A negotiated divorce settlement is formally called a separation agreement under Missouri law. The goal of such agreements is to allow both parties to voluntarily decide on certain sensitive but ancillary issues outside the primary Grounds for Divorce without the court’s intervention. These issues include:
Property division: How to divide the marital assets and debts.
Spousal support: Whether one party will pay alimony or maintenance to the other. If so, how much and for how long?
Child custody: How to share the legal and physical custody of minor children (if any).
Child support: How much money one parent will pay to the other parent to cover the expenses of raising the children.
Once you and your spouse agree on these issues, your agreement will be reduced to a written agreement that you both will sign and present to the court.
The court is bound to follow the agreement, and the contract terms may be adopted as part of the official divorce decree at the end of the divorce proceedings if you both desire. If that happens, the separation agreement gains the status of a court order or judgment. A party who willfully violates the agreement may be liable for contempt of court.
How To Negotiate a Fair Divorce Agreement With Your Spouse
Many people approach divorce settlement negotiations casually, but these things are serious. The outcome could have far-reaching consequences for you and others, especially if minor children are involved. So, while the process may not be as formal as the regular Divorce Court Procedure, always remember that your future is at stake and approach the negotiations accordingly.
Remember that your needs or wants will likely be the opposite of your spouse’s. So, there will be a lot of back and forth during the process. The following tips can help you come out on top and ensure you get a fair divorce settlement at the end of the negotiations.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
Divorce itself could be overwhelming, and settlement negotiations could amplify any negative feelings you might be feeling. So, before the process begins, consider getting professional help to cope with your feelings. Doing this helps you gain control of your emotions. That way, when the negotiations begin, it would be difficult for your spouse to trigger or pressure you into accepting an agreement that does not benefit you.
Do Your Research
When it comes to negotiation, information is power. As such, you need to be prepared with facts about your marriage, assets, your spouse’s personal life/secrets, needs, or interests, anything that could serve as leverage and help you negotiate from a position of strength. Your demands are more likely to be met this way.
You do not have to do this research on your own. Depending on the type of information you seek, you can seek professional help from experts in the field.
Be Clear on What You Want
Before the negotiation begins, you need to identify your needs and interests. You already know the issues in contention, so you must be clear about your stance on those issues and your best or worst-case scenario. That way, you can set boundaries on how far you may be willing to bend over to accommodate your spouse’s demands.
Get Help From a Divorce Attorney
Having a Divorce Lawyer by your side during the negotiation process can be a good thing. Your lawyer can represent and protect your interest throughout the negotiations so you don’t feel intimidated.
Most lawyers are skilled negotiators by their training. They can isolate the real issues in dispute from the facts presented and help maintain order when tensions get high.
Besides, your spouse probably lawyered up already, so you need to do the same to balance things out.
What Do You Do if You Already Signed an Unfair Divorce Settlement Agreement?
If you do not like where the negotiations are headed, you can back out and let the court decide on the issues in contention. Otherwise, once you agree to the terms and the court accepts it, you are bound to follow the contract. The agreement terms cannot be modified under Missouri law unless they relate to child custody, support, or visitation issues.
However, if you’ve already signed an unfair separation agreement, there might be a way out. If the agreement has not been formally adopted in court as part of the divorce decree, you can ask the court not to uphold it because it is “unconscionable” or unreasonable.
You’ll need to prove that the agreement is unconscionable with solid evidence. If the judge agrees with your arguments, they will send you and your spouse back to negotiate a revised agreement or proceed to decide on the issues covered in the agreement following the laws of the state.
The fact that you do not like the terms of the agreement is not enough for the court to find that it is unconscionable since you had time to negotiate more favorable terms before the agreement was signed. That is why you need to adequately prepare for your negotiations and seek professional help when necessary to ensure that you’re satisfied with the outcome.
Contact The Carson Law Firm for Help With Your Divorce Negotiations
Divorce agreements are useful for resolving sensitive matters between divorcing spouses out of court. However, the process leading up to such agreements is not always straightforward. If handled incorrectly, you could end up with a negotiated settlement that is imbalanced or favors your spouse over you.
The results could be devastating and could mean several things, including getting a poor financial settlement or losing custody of your children. Having professional representation in such circumstances might be all you need to navigate the settlement process successfully and get the outcome you desire.
The experienced divorce attorneys at The Carson Law Firm understand the intricacies of divorce settlement negotiations in Missouri and can guide you toward a fair settlement that suits your needs. So, if you have questions about the process or you’re wondering, ” What should I expect with a settlement?” do not hesitate to contact us.
With our extensive family law experience, we can assess your situation and help you decide on an appropriate negotiation strategy for your case.
Give us a call today to get started.