Designing A Divorce Agreement
Nearly all divorces result in agreements. Only a small percentage of divorce cases go to trial. It is never too early to start thinking about a resolution. The earlier in the divorce process that you give thought to your settlement, the more likely your result will incorporate what is important to you as you transition out of your marriage. Another benefit of giving early thought to your settlement is that the more work you put into the settlement early on the more likely it is that the divorce process will take less time, be more amicable, and be more cost-efficient than a traditional litigation approach to divorce.
My experience is that in traditional litigation cases settlement discussions do not start for several months after the case is filed. Even then the discussions are done from a distance and is done through the attorneys, not the parties. Since starting my collaborative work and recognizing the importance of early settlement discussions I have made it a point to, very early in the case and even before it is filed if I can, sit down with both attorneys and the clients to talk about the case, how it is going to be handled, and how best to work towards resolution.
While I have found this approach to be extremely beneficial in many cases where I have applied this approach I have encountered resistance to having these discussions. Attorneys have complained that “this is not the way things are done” and want to spend significant time and money on litigation “discovery” such as interrogatories, subpoenas, and depositions.
From my perspective both parties need all relevant information to make informed decisions. That being the case, why not voluntarily provide all the information they have and save the money, time and aggravation that goes along with traditional discovery methods? My experience in these situations is that counsel ends up spending a lot of money on information we were offering for minimal cost.
Then what generally happens is that settlement discussions do not really start until trial is imminent. In this situation the settlements that are reached are done so under the stress and pressure of having to get ready and pay for trial, rather than a deliberate consideration that allows the parties to create their agreement without that stress and pressure.
In a Collaborative Case we start working on your settlement from the very first meeting. The path to resolution is one built by all members of the Collaborative Team. Working together we get the parties the information they need to make decisions on what is in the resolution.
Considering the resolution of your case just as it is beginning can be a hard thing to do. This difficulty, however, is balanced by the skill and experience of the Collaborative professionals with whom you are working. Trust them to help you talk about your resolution early and often. By doing so your resolution will reflect your needs and interests, and those of your spouse.