The heart of a Wisconsin divorce settlement agreement will address issues of child custody and visitation, marital property division, spousal maintenance (alimony) and child support. Many hope to reach a settlement to avoid going to court, but it often takes a skilled negotiator to make it happen if the parties do not agree on the issues. This is where an experienced Wisconsin divorce attorney can help.
Before sitting down at the table with your spouse and his or her attorney, you and your divorce lawyer will plan the meeting, which often includes an agenda, preferably in writing. Your attorney will often work through less contentious issues first to establish a cooperative tone and move into more heated issues as the meeting progresses. It goes without saying that if you start with the sore point, you will get nowhere on the other issues. However, if you work out the bulk of the issues and then tackle points of strong disagreement, your spouse may be more willing to try and work it out in the spirit of continued cooperation.
A skilled negotiator will help keep the focus on the issues, not in taking positions. For example, if you and your spouse are discussing who will pay for the children’s college educations, the issue is really the cost of college and how to finance it, not a battle over whether your kid should be able to attend the priciest institution. In the same example, if your spouse wants you to pay for half of the kids college tuition, but you do not feel that you should have to pay anything, negotiations will likely break down. It is much better to remain flexible as you work through the issues and, in this case, perhaps offering to pay a third or making your contribution contingent upon your income when the children enter school will keep negotiations on track.
Another area where couples may not see eye to eye is marital property division, but again flexibility when trying to decide who gets what will go a long way. If you have your heart set on keeping the vintage car, for example, then be prepared to trade something of roughly equal value to achieve your goal. Before sitting down, decide what you want to keep and what you are willing to trade in return to keep the discussion moving.
Sometimes, couples cannot agree on all issues but are able to get a large part of the agreement worked out before heading to court saving them time and money. The best approach in any Wisconsin divorce settlement agreement is to work a skilled negotiator – your family law attorney – who can advocate your position while working toward an agreement you can both feel good about. Contact the Southeastern Wisconsin family law attorneys of Probst Law Offices for more information about the divorce settlement process at 414-210-3135.