Generally speaking, both parties to a divorce want to walk away with as much as they each can. (Rarely will you hear a spouse say “whatever it takes, just end it.”) Usually there is a fight over who contributed more to the marriage financially and what types of contributions count. A spouse who works and brings home the actual paycheck often argues that he/she is the breadwinner while the other spouse sat home having it easy. A spouse who may have been a homemaker argues that caring for the house and kids is more work than that full-time job the “breadwinner” tries to use as leverage.
Arguments over divorce settlements always start with separation agreements and end with property division, but that may not be all you have to consider. Your marriage and lifestyle may not be the same as anyone else’s, so it only stands to reason that you need a settlement agreement specific to your needs. What you start out asking for may not be what you end up with, because it all comes down to compromise. Taking stock of your lives and what you want your life to be moving forward will help you home in on what’s truly important to walk away with.
- Your children have needs, and they come first. Clothing, shelter, food, education, and healthcare: these are the baseline needs of your children, and child support is supposed to help ensure that they are met. But the baseline is not the end all, be all of what your child needs. Maybe you have a child with special needs who requires a certain level of medical care that can only come with great health insurance. Perhaps your child attends a costly private school that can give him/her the necessary attention required to excel. Extracurricular activities can come with hefty expenses by the time you finish with equipment and competition fees.
- Parents have a right to quality time with their kids. Spending equal time with your children is important for them and for you, and more parents have taken on both career and raising children. This can make it tough to stay on top of things. When your children are in your care, you need to be able to focus on spending quality time with them as much as possible. Asking for resources to help you manage day to day living with your kids to free up time to help with homework or be at their swim meets can be invaluable.
- You deserve to maintain your lifestyle. Whether you are the primary financial earner or the homemaker – or both – you have a right to continue living at a similar level. When both spouses worked to build what you have, both should ideally leave with an equitable split of everything. That could mean paying for or receiving alimony, the marital home, vehicles, maintenance fees, life insurance, health insurance, or a family business.
- Think about your golden years. Even if you’re years away from retirement, the earlier you get a jump start on saving and investing, the better off you’ll be. That means the more you walk away with right now will help establish your level of living when you retire. If you haven’t been working and plan to begin a career, this can also mean building into your settlement the training and education needed to start earning and saving.
Leverage is a useful tool
There are different negotiation skills that can be used to craft a nice settlement offer in any divorce. However, sometimes it is good to know what your spouse truly values when entering the toughest of battles. Whether it’s for the sake of being difficult or vindictive, or simple greed and selfishness, some spouses just won’t be reasonable when trying to hammer out a fair settlement. If you need or want something that your spouse has dug his or her heels in on and won’t agree to, asking for something you know that he or she values and you stand a good chance of receiving may be just the maneuver you need to make.
It may not even be something of financial value that your spouse wants. The idea of losing something of sentimental value or that he or she treasures can be a powerful play to gain some traction to get what you want and deserve.
When you separate it may be a good time to take a moment to think clearly about what you feel you’re missing or may need to move on with your life once your divorce becomes final. Certain benefits don’t seem apparent until you find yourself without them for a period of time.
The client-focused Charlotte property division attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC will discuss your options to ensure you are satisfied with leaving no stone unturned when entering settlement negotiations or trial. To schedule your private consultation with one of our caring family law attorneys in our Charlotte, Boone, Concord, or Weddington offices, call 704-321-0031, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.