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10 Ways to Prepare to Negotiate a Divorce Settlement

One of the most significant and incorrect assumptions that people make about divorce cases in Texas is that the likely outcome of their case will be decided in A courtroom. I think that because movies and television shows always portray spouses going at one another in a courtroom with attorneys and a judge present that the logical conclusion would be that this is how most divorce cases go. The case is filed, and you and your spouse can argue about differences of opinion on a few subjects but ultimately it is the family court judge who will play the tiebreaker and decide the outcome of your case. 

The reality of the situation is that this could not be farther from the truth. Rather, most divorce cases in Texas settle during negotiations long before a trial is ever necessary. However, there is a thin line between settling your case and having to go to a trial period if you and your spells are not prepared to negotiate with one another you may as well book that court date that you have been hearing so much from movies, television, and even your family members. 

However, it does not have to be this way. Although preparation for negotiation is an ongoing subject that is relevant to your divorce you should know that there are points of time in your case where preparation is especially important. This will be the focus of today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We want to help you to understand 10 different ways that you can use on a practical level to prepare for negotiation during your divorce. We understand that your divorce is unique to you and your spouse in that what makes a difference in your case may be different than what makes a difference in another person’s case. 

For that reason, we want to focus our attention on 10 extremely common ways for you to improve your chances of being able to negotiate a settlement with your spouse rather than must prepare to go to trial. What a trial ends up meaning is that, even if you are successfully able to present arguments to a judge, you are ceding decision-making authority to another person. While this is necessary in some cases where settlements cannot be reached with your spouse it may not be necessary in your case. The best way to maintain autonomy over yourself in your case is to not let a judge be able to make decisions for you. 

With that in mind let's begin today's blog posts by sharing the steps that I think are best for you to take in terms of preparing to negotiate with your spouse during a Texas divorce. If you have any questions about the material presented in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce case.

Hire an experienced family law attorney

The best way to prepare for a divorce settlement negotiation is to have the advice and counsel of an experienced family law turning available to you. As we just finished talking about divorce cases that involve children under the age of 18 and cases where you have a substantial amount of Community property subject to division needs to be one where you seriously consider hiring an experienced family law attorney to represent you in your case. The stakes are high in cases like this, and you need to take every opportunity available to you to have the best advice possible.

On top of advice, an experienced family law attorney will help you to approach your case from a methodical and intentional perspective. Intentionality is key when it comes to acting within the confines of a Divorce. Having an attorney perspective means that you can understand more fully the complexities of your case and proceed more confidently in doing what it takes to negotiate settlement offers on behalf of your children. When it comes to uricase there is only so much you can do to prepare beforehand. It is a better idea to work with an experienced attorney who can give you the kind of objective and reality-based advice that you need to find success in your case.

Start to collect documents early and often

Part of being able to negotiate on subjects like division of your community estate is understanding that having accurate and updated information is incredibly important. One of the most frustrating parts of trying to negotiate settlements to divorce cases is coming prepared to mediation or even to an informal settlement negotiation only to find that your opposing party is not as well prepared. Unpreparedness means that you will not be able to fully consider the settlement offers on the other side because you will not know what the accurate numbers are on account balances, debts, or is she is regarding your home or retirement accounts. 

For that reason, I recommend to people that they come prepared with accurate balance statements account information, and other valuable documents during settlement negotiations. When in mediation you can exchange documents to make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to these important figures. before you begin your divorce, it is a great idea for you to collect this type of information from your home. The more work that you can do before the case begins means that less work must be done during the case itself. This saves you time as well as money because you do not have to pay an attorney on their staff to help you collect these documents.

Develop goals as well as a path towards achieving those goals

It is not good enough for you simply to have a goal of wanting to get through your divorce or to have general goals that you are thinking about regarding your case. Rather, you need to be intentional about figuring out specific goals for your case and developing a path towards achieving those goals. One of the major things to consider in this regard is that many people go through a divorce aimless. These folks will react to random things throughout the case but will have no defined vision for where their case needs to go or what their goals are. This is a huge mistake and one that I would recommend that you do your best to try to avoid.

Fortunately, we have already covered the main way to avoid putting yourself in this position. Namely, that means hiring an attorney. An experienced family law attorney can help you be proactive rather than reactive. It is not enough for you to constantly react to the things that your spouse does during the divorce. Rather, you need to set the course for your case and work with your attorney to achieve the goals that you have for yourself and your family. While you can never fully anticipate what will happen in a divorce case you can have a very good idea of what you want to achieve as well as a reasonable path towards achieving those goals. An attorney will also help you to be intentional about thinking of achievable and reasonable goals versus goals that are unreasonable and beyond reach for you based on the circumstances of your specific case.

Be prepared to wait during your divorce

One of the great challenges of divorce cases in Texas is that your divorce will take some time to complete. This is not exactly a surprise to most people. From my experience, most people expect to be able to wait to get divorced. However, there is a big difference between expecting something and being able to tolerate it. Understanding that your divorce is going to take some time to finish is not very helpful to you unless you can learn how to handle the weight itself. This takes some self-control and keeping your eyes on major goals in your case. If you can understand just how your case works and have a better idea about how each stage of the case impacts the others, you will be able to display more patients and generally accomplish more in your divorce.

Negotiate early and often in your divorce

On the other hand, one thing that many people are surprised to find out about in the context of their divorce is that most divorces in Texas end up settling before you get to a point where the family court judge decides for you. The presumption is that once you file your divorce case it is only a matter of time before you wind up having to go before a judge for a hearing. However, this is simply not the case and in most situations, you and your spouse will have an opportunity to negotiate your way through the outcome of a case.

How this should impact you is with an understanding that divorce cases are one in last at the negotiating table rather than in the courtroom. This may require you to set aside some pride and some ego and instead focus on what may be best for you in the long term. Additionally, it takes a special degree of understanding to negotiate your way through a divorce knowing that what is in your child's best interests may not be in your own best interest. Setting aside what you want and taking into consideration what your child needs is a challenge even for the best parent.

Looking at a case from your spouse’s perspective

Even if you knew that negotiation was a tremendously important part of a divorce case this does not necessarily mean that you are ready and willing to negotiate. You may be coming into a divorce from the perspective that you are completely in the right in your spouse is completely in the wrong. However, most divorces are not as cut and dry as this. It is unlikely that your divorce is completely the blame of you or your spouse. Rather, both of you played a role, likely, in the upcoming divorce.

What does this mean for you? Well, what it means is that you may have to look at your divorce while walking a mile in the shoes of your spouse and Co-parent. This could be an incredibly difficult lesson. However, much like we saw earlier with learning patients, the ability to look at a case from the perspective of your spouse can be incredibly instructive in terms of learning how he or she is approaching the case and generally providing an outlook for you all to settle rather than proceed into the courtroom. If you can begin to view the case from the perspective of your spouse rather than just your own, you can at least see why he or she is negotiating in the way that they are. That doesn't mean you have to agree with it but it does mean that you can gain a valuable perspective on their thinking and perhaps gain an advantage for yourself along the way.

Make sure to tell your attorney everything

One of the most frustrating aspects of a divorce case is to proceed deep into the case only to find out some aspect of the case is different than you lead your attorney to believe. Without a doubt, there are some embarrassing aspects of a case that can come out in a divorce. Nobody is saying that everything that you and your trade discuss must be pleasant or something that you are proud of. However, we all do things in life that we are not proud of but that doesn't mean you can keep this hidden from your attorney. If there is some aspect of your financial, personal, or parenting life that is important you need to share it with your attorney. Allow your attorney to determine whether that is something that could impact your divorce. Do not assume that it is irrelevant and therefore not important enough to share.

Prepare for mediation like you would at trial

This piece of advice is just as much for your attorney as it is for you. Mediation is the likeliest place for you and your spouse to complete your divorce through negotiation. This is a formalized negotiation setting where you and your spouse can sit down together at another attorney's office and go back and forth on the terms of your case. These negotiation terms can be discussed intentionally between the two of you. However, you need to come prepared with documentation to be able to operate well as a negotiating team. This means that all the documentation you collected in discovery, financial documents, and any paperwork associated with their children should have been brought to mediation. Additionally, you should have settlement options to provide your spouse with during negotiations. The better prepared you are for mediation the less likely a trial becomes.

Talk to your spouse if possible

A divorce case is not one where your attorney is going to forbid you from speaking to your spouse. This would be impractical considering the degree to which your lives are still connected at this point. The two of you may be sharing custody of your children and could even be living in the same home for some time.  As a result, it would not make sense to limit your ability to discuss the case with one another. Much of the time you and your spouse can conduct informal settlement negotiations together. I always encourage this with clients especially when the two of you can be civil. Put yourself in harm's way or expose yourself to verbal trauma unnecessarily. However, if you think that you can negotiate with your spouse during the divorce and you should do so.

Keep an open mind

Finally, one of the best pieces of information that I can share in this setting is that you should be willing to have an open mind when it comes to your divorce case. This means that, if possible, you should consider the case and its outcome is one in which you have the ultimate say so. However, the result of your divorce may not look like exactly what you had in mind when the case started. That's OK. However, do not become disgruntled or despondent if you were unable to settle the case in exactly the fashion you had planned out with your attorney. There is more than one way to settle a case fairly. Talk with your attorney to gauge whether the settlement offers you are considering reflect the circumstances of your case and or are equitable to all parties.

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of divorce for a child custody case.

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