Friday, August 15, 2014

Being Realistic --Don't Get Greedy!

There's a lot of pressure when it comes time to resolve a divorce.  Mostly, it's self-imposed, but it is real nevertheless.  A big concern is for both parties to be as financially secure as possible even though you increase expenses by splitting one household into two.  Often the party with less earning power is very fearful about the future.

As a result, sometimes one party to a divorce starts pushing hard to get as much cash or other assets as possible.  Aside from the fact that such an approach is straying from the focus on the goals that was discussed at the first meeting, the parties can easily get into conflict over the money.  That can make it harder to get to an agreement over the broader issues.

To avoid those problems, the parties should always be realistic. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1.  Don't over-reach.  In the Collaborative process, we emphasize that we are not bound by standard guidelines or presumptions.  We start with the goals of the parties and try to find solutions consistent with the goals.  However, that's not a license to insist on unreasonably large shares of the assets.  That could make an overall agreement much less likely if someone appears unreasonable or greedy.

2.  Listen to your attorney and the other professionals.  We and they are on your side.  We are all working together to help everyone reach an agreement.  We try to expand the pie and create win-win situations, but we need you to follow our advice.  Even when we disagree with you, we are all trying to help both parties.

3.  Both parties need to feel good about the  result.  If one side asks for so much that the other side feels mistreated or cheated, the deal will fall apart.  Even while you are taking care of your needs, it is important to think of how your spouse will feel about your proposal.  No one forces a settlement on the other side -- there must be voluntary agreement.

4.  Keep in mind that both parties will have to adjust their standard of living.  In most cases, the parties try to stretch the same amount funds to cover two households, instead of one.  There will be changes for both parties and there won't be as much money available per person as there used to be.

5.  Don't get too complicated.  While there may be many issues on the table, don't try to create such an elaborate plan that it will fail.  Be realistic!  Keep things simple. 

In sum, don't focus exclusively  on yourself.  Think about your spouse and how he or she will react to the solutions you propose.  Be willing to compromise and try to find some points that you can agree to that will benefit your ex.  Goodwill goes a long ways!

Friday, August 1, 2014

How Collaborative Law and Litigation are Alike

Most of my writing about Collaborative Law discusses how it is different from Litigation.  For a change, I will explain some of their limited similarities.

1.  Both processes use the same basic time periods. 
  • One of the parties must have lived in Texas for at least 6 months and the county they file in for the last 90 days.  
  • There's also a 60-day waiting period, from the date the case is filed until a divorce can be granted by the Court.
2.  The parties need to gather and share information about the assets, liabilities and children.  In litigation it is normally in writing and formal.  In Collaborative, we usually involve the neutral professionals  in obtaining, reviewing and organizing the information.  In Litigation cases, the attorney usually takes charge of it.

3.  The attorneys create a detailed court order with the agreement.  They want it clear and enforceable.

4.  Documents take time to  prepare.  The Decree of Divorce, sometimes the Agreement Incident to Divorce and any Qualified Domestic Relations Orders always seem to take a long time.

5.  The parties must get the Court to approve the agreement.  There must be a formal, signed court order.

Sometimes people get in a hurry in Collaborative cases.  Hopefully, they will keep in mind that some things just can't be ignored or sped up.  Collaborative cases usually are faster than Litigated ones, but we still have hoops to jump through.