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Negotiating a Divorce Settlement

Couples going through divorce will have to deal with a variety of competing emotions and reactions, both from each other and loved ones invested in the couple’s happiness. This process is not easy, and the sensitive nature of the issues pertinent to divorce can turn many spouses away from the light of the courtroom to negotiate a private settlement. In most marriages, negotiated divorce settlements tend to leave the parties more satisfied with the outcome because they can tailor the terms to the specific dynamics of their family; litigation does not necessarily offer an opportunity to do this. However, the long-term implications of a divorce settlement are just as serious and binding as a court order, so walking in unprepared can easily lead to an undesirable outcome. Knowing how to identify possible concerns and figuring out a strategy in advance of a meeting can avoid this result, which will be explored below.


Negotiation will require some amount of compromise and communication with the other spouse, which can be challenging in certain circumstances. Thus, it is first important to ask if negotiation is a good option, and if not, whether mediation, which has a mediator to work as a buffer, would be the better route. This issue is important because successful negotiation will require the spouses to approach property division and child custody to approach the table with objectivity, and not an abundance of emotion. Compromise will be required, as well as knowing when to resist the temptation to give in too easily for a quick resolution. Furthermore, each spouse needs to have realistic expectations, particularly as it relates to dividing marital property and sharing child custody. This means having a list of goals, including what would be the best-case scenario and what would be wholly unacceptable. Creating this structure helps give direction to the discussion and reduces the chance a bad decision will be made. Part of this is realizing that arguing over minor and easily replaceable items can derail an otherwise promising negotiation, and should not be the reason the case lands in court.

Important Financial Considerations

Beyond making a list of assets and debts, spouses entering divorce negotiations need to assess how assets are being distributed, and particularly the type of assets each spouse is receiving. For example, receiving primarily liquid assets over retirement accounts may make it difficult to plan support as one grows older. The couple’s age should also be considered, as having decades of working years left versus heading directly into retirement will dictate the type of assets a person receives. The closer one is to retirement, the better it may be to receive liquid assets that allow for paying off debt as a reduction in income looms in the coming years. Importantly, the tax consequences of taking certain assets must also be understood, particularly for the spouse with less income who would have a harder time meeting tax obligations for some assets. Finally, financial goals should be evaluated, which could influence which assets would better serve meeting them, such as money to return to school or obtain more training, or moving to a new place. Working with an experienced divorce attorney and financial advisor is integral to achieving an appropriate result.

Get Legal Advice

If you are thinking of divorce or approaching divorce settlement negotiations, speak to a divorce attorney about how to approach this process. Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. knows how overwhelming divorce and negotiating a settlement can be, and is here to help you get the best possible results. Contact the Brownsburg divorce firm at (317) 745-4494 to schedule an appointment.

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