20 Things To Negotiate In A Divorce
Negotiate in a divorce without going crazy. Going through a divorce isn’t easy for most. For some it is a out and out war. Sad, but I truly believe you don’t really know someone until you divorce them. Then their dark side really comes out. Having some ideas of what you want, your STBX (so to be ex) wants, and what the kids want is important. Some people can do fine writing it all down, filing papers and being done. Others have divorce lawyers, fights, battles, and never ending emails, texts and meetings. Having some ideas of what you want before going in helps you make your appointments quicker too. When you figure out things don’t just think about what you want now. Plan ahead. Custody, money, college, etc. The more you plan it, the fewer appointments you’ll need later and this will hopefully reduce fights.
First Thing Is First- Must Haves
What do you absolutely want. Custody, holidays, property, money. Write them down.
- Custody: This totally depends on your personal situation. Some people have 50/50. Others 80/20. Others 100 and supervised visitation. This is not about you, a power trip, who ‘deserves the kids’ or money. It is about what is best for the kids.
- Holidays: Do you do every-other-year for each holiday? (one parent has odds, other evens). Do you split each holiday in half (4-5 hours to each parent). Share the holidays together? (this might be great if you get alone but might change if either of you start dating). This includes big holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) plus other parent’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, kids’ birthdays.
- Education: Where will the kids be in school? What if one of the parents move? If your kids have an IEP who goes to the meetings? Who has final decision when it comes to schools, changing schools, homeschooling, etc. (Read here how Single Parents Can Homeschool).
- Property: Not my forte to discuss but you need to figure it out. Most people figure a way to split it or buy one out from the other. Don’t fight for property you can’t afford after the divorce.
- Money: Besides money in accounts you also have to figure out any retirement accounts, time shares, stocks, etc. Might be easier to leave this up to lawyers if it there is a lot to figure out.
- If you have debt, any at all, get it paid off. This is my personal opinion. But you don’t want to have debt after a divorce. Speaking form experience from a friend. She split debt with her ex. He would pay taxes and she would pay credit cards. He didn’t pay them. The IRS came after her for the money. They didn’t care what the divorce papers said. Credit card companies, mortgage companies, etc will say the same. BOTH parties are responsible for the debt. When I got a divorce I filed for legal separation immediately. That way any debt from that date, forward, incurred by him, would not be my debt.
- Medical: Make sure your court papers say both are responsible for medical, co-pays, deductibles. Things like when a kid loses their glasses. When kids need dental braces.
- Non-Medical: Enrichment classes, sports, music lessons, extra curricular activities, etc.
- Housing: Are kids required to have their own beds? bedroom? Do you send clothing, school supplies, diaper bag, medicine, etc back and forth are do both parents have their own?
- Income Taxes: Who claims the kids? Some times if custody is 50-50 and there is an even number of kids (2, 4) than each parent claims 1/2. In general, it is usually who ever has more custody. There are two things. 1- What the courts say. 2- What the IRS says. Unfortunately last time we went to court the mediator left it out. So I called the IRS. According to the IRS it is a) Who has more than 51% custody. b) Who’s address the children’s school district has as the children’s address. c) Who’s address is the main address for health insurance.
Up Next- Things To Ponder
The age of your kids can make a big difference on things you want to discuss. Here are just a few ideas.
- What age does child support end?
Who pays for college? Books, tuition, housing, etc. For how long?
Who pays for first car, car insurance?
- If you or your ex start dating is that new person allowed around your kids? Allowed to spend the night there? You don’t always have a right or a say in any of this. But it is something you can discuss.
- First right of refusal: Meaning if you or your STBX need to go out somewhere and need a babysitter for an extended amount of time you are required to ask your ex if they want the kid(s) first. This only works for parents that get along well and can backfire since you’ll have to do the same when you need a sitter.
- If your kids have passports, social security cards, birth certificates who holds them?
- Can your ex travel out of the state, out of the country with them? Most court papers say you have to notify the other parent 30 days in advance (via email is best) if you are going to be out of the house for more than 72 hours. If out of the state you need the other’s permission.
- If kids are old enough for a cell phone- who pays the bill?
- Some people need to put boundaries on how often the ex can call while the kids are with you (and vise-a-versa). If a parent has Wednesday-night-dinner for two hours than it isn’t okay for the other parent to call and chat for 20 minutes and interrupt.
- If you have pets who keeps them?
This sounds crazy but going to court is like shopping at a garage sale. Plan for negotiations. If there are some things you really want than ask for more and negotiate lower, to the figure or numbers you really want. Be willing to compromise. It is important to know that you won’t get everything you want out of the negotiations.
Don’t forget this is all about your kids. The courts, judge, lawyers, mediators, etc do not care if your ex cheated on you, left you, was never home, etc. They care what is best for the kids. You might go in there saying you want all the custody because he was gone all day and night… but doesn’t mean the courts will believe you. (Keeping track of your ex and how to get changes is another topic I’ll write about soon).
This should not have to be said, but do NOT let your ex verbally abuse you. On the phone, via text, in front of the kids, etc. You should not do it either. Some courts require co-parenting classes. If not, read up on it. Even if you can’t get along well enough to be married, you need to figure out how to get along for the kids.
It Is Not Over…
Understand if things aren’t working out you aren’t stuck with the court agreement. You can go back. This does not mean go back every 3-6-12 months (believe me, the judge will yell at you if you do and your lawyers will love your for paying for their vacations). But you can go back. The counts understands things change. You might have a new job, lose your job, need to move. Sometimes someone meets someone and wants to move the kids to another county or state. There might be things you forgot to put in your papers that become significant. You can file papers and go back to court again.
Don’t forget..It is okay to be single. There is no reason you need to replace your ex. Have a new partner around your kids or wait until you have ‘your other half’ to be happy. Embrace yourself and your kids and enjoy this new life. Seriously, dating while going through a divorce is asking for a disaster anyways. Besides that, you don’t need a rebound. Learn to be happy alone.
Personal Disclosure: I am not a lawyer an am not offering legal advise. These thoughts are all my opinion and should not be used in replacement of doing your own research or consulting a lawyer.
What Tips Do You Have To Negotiate In A Divorce?