Property Settlement Agreement during Mediation, Collaboration or Litigation of a Divorce

Nothing is more important than family. You want to do what is best for the people you love and protect the things that mean the most to you.

There are three different types of ways parties may want to precede with a divorce:

(1) mediation;

(2) collaborative; and

(3) litigation.

Keep in mind, that one type may not be better than the other and no two marriages are the same. Regardless of the type of method used for resolution, a Property Settlement Agreement must be well crafted.

In Mediation, spouses make all their own decisions with respect to distribution of marital property, how much alimony would be appropriate and how child custody arrangements are made.  This type of “mediated” divorce requires the parties to voluntarily disclose their financial information.  Some times this is a difficult task if there is a lack of trust in the relationship, and that’s the reason for the divorce in the first place.

Through mediation, the parties resolve all their legal and financial responsibilities by agreement, and consent to a custody arrangement that would be in the best interest of their child(ren).

The mediation process usually occurs when one attorney represents both parties, but DOES NOT advocate for a particular individual. In the event negotiations fail, we would advice the parties to seek out separate attorneys to represent them, as the attorney acting as the mediator would have a conflice of interest in representing any one of the parties against the other.  So when negotiations breakdown, each party must seek independent counsel and start over.

In a collaborative divorce, each party seeks their own attorney. This too is a non-litigated type of divorce. Each attorney advises and assists their respective client in negotiating a settlement agreement relating to marital property, alimony and custody of the child(ren). Here, the parties, along with their lawyers, meet to discuss a possible resolution. During the collaborative process, the attorneys might recommend that a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst be brought in to assist the parties with any financial issues and possibly make a recommendations as to duration of income from assets.

A litigated divorce is the “traditional” type of divorce. This is when tensions are running high and the parties simply cannot agree on anything. In this type of divorce, it is highly recommended that each party seek an attorney to assist them with the legal process. This is when the court will make decisions and order the distribution of property, alimony and what would be considered in the best interest of the child in custody disputes.

This type of divorce it is a lot more formalized in a sense that certain rules apply and financial disclosures may be court ordered. Here, you want to seek an attorney who is a highly skilled negotiator and experienced litigator. Try to avoid the overly contentious and adversarial attorney; this will only prolong the legal process. A long and dragged out divorce will substantially increase your attorney’s fees and serves as an emotionally painful process for the parties, especially the children.

The bottom line is, just like every family is different, so is every divorce.  Once all this is ironed out, the Property Settlement Agreement should be very comprehensive – particularly with regard to how the property is divided. Once you sign an agreement regarding property division, it cannot be changed unless both of you agree to the changes. It’s up to you to make sure that your lawyer doesn’t leave any assets out of your settlement agreement (unless it’s something that you’re going to litigate in court).

You don’t necessarily have to list every single personal possession in your settlement agreement, but you should list personal items that are important to you. You should also list financial assets, including retirement assets and real estate. If you need advice as to what direction to take in a divorce, contact our office, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Lehigh Valley Divorce Attorneys. We will help guide you through this or any other process that may be right for you.

Whether you are considering custody arrangements or are going through a divorce, you need to know that you have an experienced lawyer there to guide you.  At Snyder & Wiles, PC, we provide our clients with the personal service they deserve during their and their families’ most difficult times.

In every area of law, it is important to have a strong personal connection between attorney and clients, and this connection is especially key when it comes to your family. When it comes time to take action, you need to be comfortable with the advice you receive is essential.  Contact Snyder & Wiles, PC for a consultation regarding your family law matters, which includes divorce, custody, child support and spousal support or fill out the form on this page.  610-391-9500.

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