What Should I Ask for When Negotiating a Divorce Settlement?

A divorce allows you to start your life over, but your old, married life will impact that new one. Think about how untangling your life from your spouse will affect you legally and financially. What will you not have, or not have enough of, to start this new life?

You can break down what to ask for in a settlement agreement regarding parental roles and property rights or prioritize your ask based on needs and wants.

What Do You Need? What Do You Want?

Think about your priorities. What do you need, and what do you want but can go without? Nearly all divorce cases are settled without going to trial. That means there will be negotiations (and possibly mediation) between you and your spouse through your attorneys.

In any negotiation, there are things that a party needs (or thinks they need) to resolve the issue. Other issues are negotiable, and you should be willing to give things up as necessary to satisfy your needs. After your needs are met, try to obtain what you want. Ideally, both sides will get most of what they need and some of what they want.

State law may entitle you to certain things. If those laws address your needs, that is great! If not, and you are willing to part with the things given to you by state law (partially or totally), they can be bargaining chips to ensure your needs are met.

It is like a chess match. You must protect your king. All the other pieces are expendable if that means you win the game. In this case, winning satisfies your needs, and you are in the best position to start your new life.

What Role Must You Play With Your Kids?

If you have kids, Pennsylvania law makes your child’s interests paramount, so what you need or want takes a back seat. State law presumes a child needs both parents in their lives.

The more time you feel you need with your child, and the more significant role you wish to play, the stronger the facts and legal arguments must be to accomplish that. Unless the other parent is irresponsible or a potential danger to your child, you may have a tough time if you feel a need to be the sole parent or the other parent should have minimal contact with their child.

Most parents meet in the middle. They share legal custody (the ability to make crucial decisions), but their physical custody or parental time may vary. One parent may spend most of the time with the child, or it may be split evenly.

What are Your Financial Needs?

The distribution of a married couple’s debts and assets is supposed to be based on what is equitable and fair, given the situation. When negotiating a settlement, there is a mix of what a person may be entitled to and what they are willing to trade with their spouse to achieve their needs and wants.

You may need more financial help in the short term, so you may forego the ongoing income of spousal support to get more cash or assets upfront. If you need the marital home, what assets will you swap to get it? Ideally, a spouse who needs the home is married to someone who wants to move away and start over, so the marital home (with all the memories that come with it) is the last thing they want.

Get the Help You Need from an Attorney You Can Trust  

If you think getting divorced may be in your future or have decided it is the next step, call us at (215) 608-1867. We can discuss your situation via teleconference, on the phone, or in our Doylestown or Langhorne office.