You Can Be Too Nice in a Divorce
Ninety-five plus percent of all divorce cases will settle without a trial. However, that does not necessarily mean that each spouse ends up with a deal that gives them everything they want. There is such a thing as being too nice when you settle your case and live by the agreement afterward. It is always wise to seek advice from a divorce law firm.
Collaboration Only Works to a Point
Divorce attorneys always advise their clients that they need to try to collaborate with the other ex-spouse not only in court but throughout their children’s entire lives. Your lawyer is simply telling you what a judge would if you were in front of them. Practically every judge in a family law case will talk to the parties to tell them that they should do everything that they can to avoid court in the future. There is no doubt that a harmonious relationship is the best thing for everyone. However, that is not always possible.
In many divorces, the two major issues will be financial and custody questions. In an ideal scenario, the two spouses will negotiate a solution with some give and take on both sides after consulting with a divorce attorney. Of course, neither side will be completely happy about the final agreement, but that is normal when there is a compromise. The key is that each side gets enough to make it a workable situation and enough of what they do want while avoiding a court fight.
Some People Are Never Satisfied Which is Why You Need a Divorce Law Firm
However, your divorce lawyer may advise you that compromise only works for you up until a certain point. Even if you are doing the best you can to come to an agreement, not all people will act the same way. Some people are just trying to get everything that they can without any interest in what you want. Those people will never be pleased with anything less than the full loaf. That will not work for you.
Other divorcees are more aggressive. For whatever reasons, they carry their personal feelings into the divorce negotiation process and cannot put them aside. This usually means any type of compromise would be completely unacceptable for them. In the end, you will end up losing because you will give an inch, and they will take the proverbial yard.
Modifications Are Hard to Get
One major reason why you cannot be too nice in the divorce process is that the agreement that you reach will be very difficult to change. Once signed, your divorce agreement becomes a court order that is enforceable under penalty of contempt of court. The terms are binding the instant that you affix your signature to it.
Changing the terms of your divorce agreement is never easy. You certainly cannot do it verbally because your divorce agreement is a court document, and there are no oral modifications to it. Instead, you would need to go to the court and file for a modification to the court order. This is not always easy to get. Instead, it is quite the opposite. You would need to show why circumstances have changed that would entitle you to the modification. Otherwise, the court would expect you to abide by the agreement that you signed. This means that you need to negotiate a fair agreement. Many people learn the hard way that “nice” is not always fair.
When it comes to the equitable distribution aspect of your divorce, once the court order is issued, there is no going back unless certain very limited exceptions apply. You do not get a second chance to renegotiate that aspect your financial settlement. Once the agreement is signed, the property will be divided in accordance with the agreement.
Do Not Hurt Yourself in the Long Run
When you are too accommodating in the divorce agreement, you may end up losing out in the long run. Your financial future depends on what you negotiate. Giving too much for the sole purpose of getting an agreement done may compromise your future for years to come. It may even keep you from being able to start again in life and retire when you want. What is worse is that sometimes the other spouse can sense your desperation to get an agreement and will try to take full advantage of that. In the meantime, you could end up without sufficient assets to live your life.
Moreover, being too nice in the divorce may also establish a bad pattern for your future relationship with your ex-spouse. They may continue to try to push you around in the future. When you are co-parenting children together, there needs to be a healthy give and take. The tone that you set in the divorce agreement could ultimately carry through the rest of your time having to work with them. If you have children together, you are not fully separate from your ex-spouse until the children are grown. Thus, it is vital to let your ex-spouse know that you will not simply accommodate everything that they want just because they ask for it, and appropriate boundaries must be set.
Make Sure to Look Out for Yourself and Seek Out the Advice of a Divorce Law Firm
A family lawyer would likely tell you that the best approach would be somewhere in the middle. You clearly want to work toward an agreement, but you need to look out for your own interests, too. Your family law attorney would not advise that you surrender some of your rights and assets for the sole purpose of appeasing someone else. At the end of the day, while an agreement is the best-case scenario, you need to look out for your own interests in the divorce.
Before you agree to the divorce, you need the full financial picture. You should get a complete inventory of all the assets and how much they are worth. Then, you should compare those with your income and your financial goals. It is only after you have a full understanding of what is at stake that you should begin to talk to see if a compromise is possible.
You should do the same thing with the custody situation. The first thing that you need to think about before you start to come to any type of agreement is the bigger picture. Try to conceive of what your ideal situation would be before you begin to give things to the other spouse. When you view the overall arrangement in its totality, you avoid giving here and there in a way that ultimately erodes your interests. Focus entirely on the best interests of the children when considering custody and parenting time issues.
Being too nice in a divorce also means that you may be doing too many things informally without a written agreement. Your ex-spouse may ask for a favor here and there. Eventually, these add up to major changes or arrangements. Soon, you will find yourself having given everything possible without anything in return. In those cases, the ex-spouse ends up taking advantage of you. Unless you are making an isolated change to the schedule occasionally, you should put all agreements in writing and modify the court order. Otherwise, you might find the other ex-spouse chipping away at your rights little by little. If you find things are starting to change too much from the court order, you should contact a family law attorney.
To learn more about how best to negotiate a divorce agreement or a modification of one, contact a New Jersey family lawyer at Lawrence Law, a divorce law firm, by calling (908) 645-1000. Our divorce lawyers have offices in Watchung and Red Bank, or we could meet you online with a virtual appointment.