Should I try to make an agreement with my spouse before I file for divorce?

Divorce is never easy. There are endless questions to be answered and every question seems to spur yet another one. One of the most common questions we get from couples divorcing is whether they should try  to make an agreement with their spouse before filing for divorce.

The short answer is, maybe. A lot of how you interact with your spouse will depend upon the circumstances of your divorce. If one person wants the divorce and one doesn’t, then there could be a lot of unnecessary tension when talking about issues like child custody and splitting property. Couples that are divorcing amicably are more likely to be able to come to a decision together. This could save a lot of time and money in the long run, because the couple can then go to their respective attorneys and submit their requests.

On the other hand, you could run the risk of making a bad deal or getting taken advantage of, especially if there are a lot of assets at stake, or a difficult custody decision. Reflect carefully on your situation before making any rash decisions.

If You Can Come to an Agreement

If you’re able to sit down with your spouse and come to an agreement, you’ll have what’s called an uncontested divorce. This means that the courts won’t need to be as involved as they might normally be because you all agree on everything. The big topics to cover in divorce are:

  • Custody and parenting time
  • Property, including the marital home
  • Alimony/spousal support depending on
    • Age, health, economic status of each spouse
    • Length of marriage
    • Each spouse’s income
    • Employability of spouses
    • Occupations
    • tax consequences
  • Division of financial assets

When you have an uncontested divorce you’ll agree on the following:

  • Sharing of custody (parenting time)
  • Child support – including amount and duration
  • Spousal support – including amount and duration
  • Division of property
  • Division of debt

Even if you come to an agreement with your spouse, it’s important that you have an attorney review your documents and ensure all yours Ts are crossed and Is are dotted.

When to Not Try to Come to an Agreement

Coming to an agreement would all be peachy if people were predictable, but they aren’t. We’ve seen on many occasions a person say that they and their spouse can work it out, only to find that the spouse is ready to play dirty or renege on what they committed. Many times a person wants to see the spouse they’re divorcing as better than they are and, because of this, their judgment is clouded. They think coming to an agreement will be easier than it is.

We never encourage individuals to try to come to an agreement if there is a history of domestic violence, unpredictability, or general inequality when it comes to income or power and control.

You’ll Want an Attorney in a Contested Divorce

When you’re in a contested divorce, you’re going to want an experienced family law attorney on your side. This is the person who will go to bat for you on hard topics that you’re having a difficult time coming to an agreement on. They will work directly with your partner (if they are representing themselves) or their attorney if they have retained the services of one.

If you find yourself headed to trial, your attorney will do their very best to ensure your case is presented in the clearest and most fair manner possible to the judge. This is the best way to achieve the most favorable outcome for your case. However, it is important to keep in mind that when a divorce case goes to trial, the judge ultimately makes the decisions on the issues at hand.

There is no winning in this case. There’s really just bringing an end to a long and arduous process for both parties. While there is no winning in this instance, having an attorney on your side will ensure that you get as close to what you want as possible.

You Might Not Have To Go To Trial

If you find yourself in the middle of an uncontested divorce, don’t immediately think that you will have to go to trial. It is rare for any divorce case to go to trial. The most common thing we see is one spouse dragging their feet on certain issues as a way to frustrate the other person involved. We caution our clients to think of trial as a last option.

Have you found yourself suddenly in need of a divorce attorney? Get in touch with our experienced Concord, New Hampshire family law team. We can help advise you on the ins and outs of the divorce process, what you can expect, and what we typically see. Our team can also assist with your uncontested divorce by looking over documents and ensuring everything is filed correctly with the courts.

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