When Is It Time to Stop Negotiating Over Small Issues in Divorce?

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Negotiating a settlement in divorce rather than litigating is usually the quickest and most cost-effective way to resolve disputes. However, many negotiations can go on for a long time. It isn’t unusual to reach a point where the big issues have been settled but small issues still remain. Often, one party just wants to be done with the divorce and is considering just giving in. However, it’s hard to determine when it is best to stop negotiating over small issues. The longer you continue to negotiate, the more you pay in legal fees. However, minor concessions can also add up and cost you extra money or result in litigation later. Thus, the question is how you can know whether it is cheaper to give in or continue to negotiate the smaller issues.

The Costs of Settling Your Divorce

Some spouses will bicker over seemingly minor issues as a negotiation tactic. They want to wear down the other side and prolong the divorce to obtain concessions. It often works because the other spouse becomes tired of the divorce proceeding and wants to move on realizing that legal fees are growing. Settling seems like the right path even if it means paying more to the spouse as opposed to his or her lawyer.

The problem is that small changes can end up being more costly than they appear. For example, altering how one piece of property is divided can have tax or other implications that can add up. 

In addition, many such changes are requested at the last minute, which also raises the likelihood that there will be missed details when the settlement agreement is redrafted. Poorly drafted agreements frequently result in litigation and are very difficult to challenge or set aside if a party claims to have not understood the terms. 

The Benefits of Settling Your Divorce

Minor issues are often not worth fighting over. This is because of the expense of continued negotiation as well as the emotional costs. It is always a question of whether it is worth continuing to pay your lawyer to fight for you or reallocate that money to your spouse. As a general rule, prolonging divorce is usually worse for both spouses and children if there are any. No one can move forward in their lives until it’s over, so it may be best to concede. 

Deciding When to Stop Negotiating

There isn’t a clear line when to stop negotiation but you should consider a few points:

  • Prioritize what is important to you. Did you get most of what you wanted to get in the settlement? How important are the remaining issues to you? 
  • Take your emotions out of it. Some spouses will continue to fight over everything because they are angry and want to get back at their spouse. Alternatively, other spouses want to settle because they just want out of the marriage whatever it takes. The point is to try to make a rational decision based on what you are likely to get out of continued negotiations.
  • Consider your budget. Discuss your financial situation with your attorney to determine the best path forward.

Ultimately, divorce is a series of business decisions. Thus, you should talk with your attorney about your wishes and what you can reasonably expect depending on whether you settle or not. This way you can make a well-informed decision.

If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss how we can help protect your interests and achieve the best result in your case.

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