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Tips on Starting A Marital Settlement Agreement

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 8-Jan-2013

Negotiating a marital settlement agreement during an uncontested divorce can seem overwhelming. You are trying to figure out the best way to get what you need and survive after the divorce; add the emotional aspects and you might feel like giving up before you even start. We've put together some tips to help you get started with your marital settlement agreement.

The first item to keep in mind is you are not usually going to get every single thing you want. Remember, it's a negotiation. Both parties should walk away with some sense of a secure financial future. This is not the time to try to take advantage of your spouse or "stick it" to him or her. The goal is to save money by not having to go to court, where a judge will tell you what you get.

Keep focused during your negotiations. This is not the time to bring up complaints or emotional hurts, consider it a business deal which will affect the rest of your life. When communicating with your spouse:

  1. If you can't be nice, at least be civil;
  2. Listen to your spouse, but don't get dragged into a fight;
  3. Be patient, you may have to meet a couple of times to get the details finalized. It's unusual to work out a marital settlement agreement in one meeting;
  4. Know what to compromise on; and
  5. Pick a neutral place to negotiate. The last thing you want are reminders of what went wrong or someone butting into your personal situation.

Don't show up to your meeting and figure whatever happens is what was meant to happen. Show up prepared with a list of items you want to negotiate. Some individuals show up with a timer. This helps them not to linger on a topic and move on to the next issue. If you use a timer, negotiate how much time you'll spend on each topic with your spouse. If you are having a hard time on a topic, leave it for another day.

Here are some topics you may want to consider as you move through your marital settlement agreement:

  1. Lawyer fees and legal divorce costs;
  2. Spousal support and/or alimony;
  3. Child support;
  4. Pets;
  5. Grandparents' role;
  6. How to handle the needs of a special needs child;
  7. Creating a list of marital property;
  8. How to divide the marital property;
  9. Creating a list of marital assets and debts;
  10. How to handle the house;
  11. How to handle your child's school year;
  12. How to handle your child's birthday, holidays and special events;
  13. Taxes,
  14. Health insurance,
  15. Timeshares;
  16. Frequent flier miles;
  17. Pensions;
  18. Changing names on deeds;
  19. How to handle items of transportation – i.e. car, motorcycle, boat;
  20. What happens when an ex-spouse does not fulfill an obligation – i.e. child support or spousal support;
  21. How to handle any business you or your spouse are involved in;
  22. How to handle counseling for you and/or children; and
  23. How to handle religious training for your children.

Also, don't be shy about asking your divorce attorney for a guide and/or some tips on negortiating marital settlement agreements.