When you get divorced, you may be separating from your spouse, but that doesn’t mean you are completely dissolving your relationship – especially if you have children. So when negotiating your divorce settlement agreement with the help of the mediator, it’s important to not just look at current circumstances, but peer into the future as well.
A strong divorce settlement agreement will stand the test of time with flexibility and foresight built in. It needs to continue working for both parties as your children get older, one or both of you remarry, or undergo other life changes. If it does not, you may find yourself back in mediation years from now — or even hiring attorneys and heading to court.
How can you create such a settlement agreement that stands the test of time without a crystal ball?
Lean on the experience of your mediator
A good, experienced divorce mediator has helped hundreds of couples develop their divorce settlements. They know when to call in experts, such as accountants. They can foresee common scenarios that you and your ex may face in the future, whether you’re sharing a business or the custody of your children, and help you plan for those situations in your agreement.
Be ready to discuss the future
During this emotional time, it can be hard to see past next week, much less five or 10 years into the future. You may have planned out your life believing your spouse would be by your side. But even though circumstances have changed, you can still plan for expected milestones, especially regarding child custody and support. For example, how will you split the costs and mutually handle the logistics of extracurricular activities, orthodontic work, private school, or college?
Plan for the unexpected
With the help of your mediator, neutrally discuss “what if” scenarios that could throw a wrench into your settlement agreement, from minor issues like a child’s sports schedule interfering with weekend visitation to more disruptive situations like a change in income or one parent moving farther away. While the situations may seem far-fetched now, discussing how you will approach them if they occur can save you a trip to the attorney’s office in the future.
By laying out the details of your custody and support agreement, each side will know exactly what to expect. This can include how you will split future expected costs, days and times of visitation, and holiday and vacation rules. For ex-spouses who can healthily co-parent, rigid rules can give way to more flexibility. When schedules are adhered to responsibly and support payments are prompt, asking for an extra weekend because grandparents are visiting will seem like a reasonable request.
Regardless of how healthy your post-divorce life is, the aforementioned wrenches can still crash through unexpectedly. Past calendars and bank statements can help keep disagreements grounded in facts and defuse heated “he said, she said” arguments. For example, if your ex threatens to take you to court, but you have evidence that you adhered to the divorce agreement, they may not follow through.
Start Your Divorce Proceedings with South Bay Mediation
The mediators at South Bay Mediation have the experience and skills to help you negotiate a divorce settlement that will serve you in the years to come. Contact South Bay Mediation to set up a consultation to learn more today.