The divorce has been pending for months. Financial documents have been exchanged. Business evaluations and/or real estate appraisals are now complete. You and your spouse are both represented by attorneys. Both parties are anxious to reach a settlement and hoping for a “friendly” divorce. The attorneys have suggested a “4-way settlement conference”. The meeting is referred to as a “4-way” because both parties and their respective attorneys meet all together to negotiate a settlement agreement without the Court’s assistance. Before you sit down in a conference room (or over Zoom), consider the following tips to help you through the 4-way settlement conference:
- Be prepared. Identify the issues that need to be addressed. Meet with your attorney prior to the meeting to go over any questions or concerns as well as the issues that are most important to you. Organize your positions in a way that you can get to them easily during the meeting.
- Be patient. You may not be able to settle your case in one day. Many times, the first meeting is used to identify the open issues. You may have to exchange several different proposals before you reach a final agreement. Having multiple meetings also gives you a chance to review, reassess, and strategize for future settlement discussions.
- Be open-minded. Be ready to discuss alternate settlement proposals because you may agree to some of the terms but not others. For example, if the division of retirement accounts is an issue, consider options. Do you want to divide each retirement account separately, or offset one account for another? Similarly, if the distribution of the marital home is an issue, do you want to sell the home, purchase your spouse’s interest, or have your interest purchased by your spouse?
The process may be overwhelming and time-consuming but making the investment is well worth it. Expect the worst and hope for the best. Deciding the future for you and your family may be better than leaving the decision to a family law judge.
The family law attorneys at Cohn Lifland have substantial knowledge and experience in settling divorce cases. If you have any questions regarding the divorce process, contact the family law attorneys at Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf, LLP.