It is very common for couples to have some level of conflict during a divorce. There may be hurt, frustration, embarrassment, guilt, and even anger, all of which are normal and natural emotional responses to the end of a relationship.
Divorce does not have to be adversarial, however, and the divorcing couple has the option to attempt to work together to come up with a mutually satisfactory divorce settlement. This can be done in a four-way negotiation conference with the couple and their respective attorneys. It can also be completed with the assistance of a neutral third party, a mediator, who facilities the community and helps to keep the discussion on track.
The Importance of the Meeting
Going to court and having a judge determine all aspects of the division of your marital property, who pays the debts, who makes decisions for the children and even how child support and parenting time is divided is rarely a positive experience for either person.
The judge is not there to see things from either party’s side; he or she is strictly working off the letter of the law. When children are involved, the court’s focus is on the best interests of the children, not what is convenient or easy for the parents.
To avoid this issue, a meeting with the two spouses and their attorneys can be a very effective way to discuss how to create a divorce settlement that works for all involved. The client and the attorney typically meet well in advance of the divorce settlement meeting to have a discussion about what needs to be covered in the meeting.
This is a time to talk about any concerns, any deal breakers or any areas where you are able to be flexible and negotiate. The more areas where negotiation is possible, the more likely it is that the divorce settlement can be developed that works for both of the people involved.
Options to Consider
With a four-way meeting, there is no neutral third party. If you and your spouse are able to communicate with each other without becoming angry or emotional, you may want to talk and discuss issues with support from your attorney. In cases where there is significant conflict, the attorneys may be the best option to present information and discuss options, consulting with the clients as needed.
It is critical to let your attorney know if you have any safety concerns about these types of meetings. Your attorney can help you in deciding if you wish to proceed if there is a history of domestic violence or emotional abuse.