Divorce Settlements

DIVORCE SETTLEMENTS: THE BEST WAY TO END A MARRIAGE

Resolution of a family law or divorce case is recognized by family lawyers, mediators and judges as the best way to serve a client’s interest. The good news is ultimately, the overwhelming majority of family law cases settle, however the journey to get there can be a rocky, harsh and an expensive road.

To settle a family law case, its essential that all parties are operating from the same expectation of approaching the case with a desire to compromise. Compromise in its best sense is when both parties leave the agreement feeling they got something and gave up something. If the effort to agree is marred by a lopsided expectation of what is fair, the likelihood of ending up in front of the judge is high.

The best approach for the attorney representing the client is to be tuned into the psychological forces that are driving the case as early as possible. For example, if the other spouse is bitter and resentful about the breakup, this feeling may run all other aspects of the case causing the angry spouse to try and “get even” in the division of the property, parenting of the kids or other issues affecting the case. The experienced family law attorney will talk about those potential psychological issues with the prospective client in the initial office visit.

Each family law case is a unique combination of issues and personalities and will for those reasons take its own course to resolution. Some cases can be resolved faster if the parties are both emotionally prepared and well organized about their property and how they want to approach the division of property and other issues. Other cases can take months and even years where there are significant property issues and complicated fact patterns in tracing separate and community property.

A good attorney will not only know the law applicable to the case but act as guide on how to engage with the other party and the attorney. Direct and civil communication and proactive problem solving to create an environment that is stable and cultivating trust will go a long way toward creating a fertile ground for settlement and provide a broader perspective for forward progress on the case.

As I enter my 34th year as a Family Law practitioner, I find that settlement is more an art than a science. Settlement releases the parties to move on with their lives, helps stabilize the parenting relationship and allows the parties to let go of the problems of the marriage.