When a spouse files for divorce, their attorney will contact the other spouse’s attorney to begin discussing terms of the divorce such as parenting time, the division of marital property including the home or retirement accounts, and child and spousal support.
Whenever the attorneys, in consultation with their respective clients, reach an agreement on an issue, the petitioner’s attorney will send a letter to the other attorney stating what they agreed to and, if there are no further changes, move on to the next issue.
The back and forth process goes on until all issues are addressed; if there is a stalemate reached on any of the issues the spouse’s may be seek mediation to continue negotiations, or, go to court to resolve the remaining contested issues.
During the divorce settlement process, it is important for each spouse to only agree to the terms they are comfortable with, agreeing to some issues and disagreeing on others is par for the course, as is responding with counter offers in an effort to find common ground where possible.
If the divorce is very complicated and contentious, but the spouses are open to negotiation, the attorneys may call a settlement conference where both parties (optional) and their attorneys can meet to hammer out terms of the divorce agreement in person.
It is important that the client conveys their priorities prior to the meeting so their attorney can represent their interests, breaking when necessary to discuss the pros and cons of any important issue being evaluated. Some issues, such as those that involve the well-being of children, may be worth fighting for even if the parties decide to go to court, while less contentious issues may be easier to negotiate or concede.
If the spouses reach a final agreement on the issues, typically the attorney to the spouse who initiated the divorce will draft a formal agreement and send it to all parties. Additional fine tuning is permissible before the spouses grant final approval.
After the spouses’ sign the final settlement agreement it is submitted to the court where it will be reviewed before the judge signs the divorce decree. If the divorce agreement directs a spouse to turn over certain property to the other other spouse, it should be transferred before the judge signs the decree – a spouse receiving property should expect a copy of the paperwork deeding the property in their name for example, or a QDRO dividing assets in a retirement account before the judge signs and the divorce is final.
When you have questions about filing for divorce or any family law issue, contact the family law attorneys at Schlesinger & Strauss, LLC, to schedule your free consultation at 847-680-4970.