If you and your partner have separated and have agreed to start the divorce process, you’ve probably heard the phrase “settlement facilitation” used once or twice by your attorney or mediator. Since most people aren’t familiar with the process, their next question is “what is settlement facilitation” In this article, we’ll define what this meeting is and exactly what happens during facilitation.
What is a Divorce Settlement Facilitation?
Settlement Facilitation is a type of meeting where both spouses of a marriage (and their respective representation), sit down to discuss the terms and conditions of their divorce in a form of mediation. Unlike other forms of mediation, you do not sit in a room with your ex and argue across the table. Instead, a settlement facilitator is appointed to go between you and your attorney and your spouse and their attorney to try to work out an agreement. This includes everything from the division of property and assets, to alimony, child support, custody, and a visitation plan. This meeting either serves as an alternative to litigation or as the precursor to court, depending upon if both partners can reach an agreement through facilitation. Most divorces are finalized via this process and only a small percentage ever actually go to trial. This helps both parties save time and money on the overall divorce process.
5 Tips to Help You Through Your Settlement Facilitation
When you’re scheduled for a divorce settlement facilitation and have zero experience in the process, here are a few essential tips we recommend following to help you navigate through the process.
Know the Hot-Button Issues Beforehand
A settlement facilitation is an easy environment to get into an argument with your partner about assets or property division, albeit indirectly. Before you go into your conference, make sure you know what the hot-button issues are between you and your spouse, your ideal outcome with each, and the various solutions you can pursue when each comes up in conversation. With this plan in place beforehand, you can get through your settlement quicker and start your new life sooner.
Keep Your Budget in Mind
While the process can be exhausting and tensions can run high, remember that you’re there to reach an agreement with your soon-to-be-ex without the high cost of going to court. When you’re frustrated by something said or a counteroffer that’s presented to you, remember that you’re avoiding the high attorney fees, lost wages due to missing work for a trial, and other miscellaneous costs that go along with the messy, complicated process that is divorce trial.
Be Prepared to Compromise
Just as you did in your marriage, you’ll need to compromise and give something on your end in order to get something you may want. Before you go into your facilitation, the best practice is to sit down with your divorce attorney or legal team to identify which areas you’re willing to compromise or give up entirely. If you come prepared to part with some things, you’ll be able to avoid the high expense of a divorce trial.
Understand the Laws Involved
While you don’t need to pass the bar before going into settlement facilitation, you should arrive with a basic understanding of the various laws applicable to your particular situation. For example, if you and your ex-spouse share children, you may want to know how child support is calculated to help avoid any confusion. This is the most important and obvious area where a competent divorce attorney can help most. With the right person, you can lean on them for the knowledge you need to get through your conference as quickly as possible.
Settlement Facilitation can be as quick as a few hours or take as long as a few days. As emotionally and physically exhausting as this process may seem, it’s significantly better than the months or years your divorce could take if you had to go to trial. While the constant stream of offers and counteroffers may be tiring and wear on your nerves, remember to stay patient and stay focused.
What Happens After a Divorce Settlement Facilitation?
Once you and your partner have reached an agreement on everything involved in your divorce, then you’ll be finished and released. From there, the work will be on both your and your spouse’s legal team to draft agreement paperwork for both parties to sign. If you two weren’t able to see eye-to-eye and agree on the terms, then your next step will be to go to court. At this point, if you don’t have a qualified divorce attorney to fight for your best interests, now will be the time to add one to your team.
If you and your partner have decided to separate and pursue a divorce, reach out to the Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer to connect with the divorce attorney or mediator that will help you through the process. We have the experienced, understanding legal professionals that will work with you to reach agreements and arrangements that put your best interests first and help you resolve your divorce without a trial. Contact us to learn more today.