Navigating a Divorce: The Do’s and Don’ts
Divorce is a legal procedure that requires extra care and personalized attention as compared to other cases. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, each year divorce rates for most age groups have been falling since 1996 on average by five percentage points every year. This could be because most couples are choosing to wait longer before getting married.
Education and income-levels also affect the divorce rate. Dual-income couples who tend to be better educated have a stronger chance of not getting divorced in the future. In 1996, the percentage of women who held at least a bachelor’s degree was 21 percent, a figure that rose to 31 percent by 2009. The same time period saw a drop in divorce rates, as well.
Even though education certainly plays a role in the future of a marriage, those couples without a college education have not seen the same trend in divorce rates over the same time period.
Divorce Rate in the United States
According to the American Psychological Association, in the United States approximately 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and this figure increases in subsequent marriages. This is a figure that is common around several developed nations globally. In the United States, 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce, 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce, and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.
Having children also makes a difference to the divorce rate; couples with children have a 40 percent lower divorce rate than those couples without children. Some states have a higher rate of divorce than others. Orlando, for example, had a divorce rate of over 13 percent in 2013. This is a three percent increase than the United States average of 10 percent.
An interesting point seen in 2012 was that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, divorce rates rose for the third year in a row after having decreased during the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009. It appears that divorce is a contributing factor in increasing demand for housing, appliances, and furnishings. Says David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, “Separations and divorce often create additional housing demand by creating two households when there was one.”
Character Traits to Help You Negotiate
Negotiating a divorce with the help of your attorney requires successful negotiation and a well-thought-out strategy. According to McMichen, a divorce lawyer in Orlando, if you are still communicating with your spouse then divorce proceedings may be a lot simpler to negotiate. There are certain behaviors that will help you negotiate successfully during divorce proceedings, such as:
- Candor: Mediation should be seen as an opportunity to exchange information between both parties. Openness is required in order to enable effective information exchange and so that one party doesn’t feel that they are being left uninformed. Never try to withhold information as this is counter-productive.
- Compromise: No mediation can be truly successful unless both client and lawyer are prepared to make a reasonable level of compromise. A negotiation shouldn’t be about ‘winning’ but about reaching an agreement that both parties can agree upon.
- Be Prepared: Bring as much information as you can in order to make your case and convince the other party by using a mixture of facts and the law. Being prepared will put you in a stronger position when negotiating.
Which Method Should You Use to Reach a Settlement?
There are three main ways in which you can work with your lawyer to get the other party to reach an agreement:
- Litigation: This can be an expensive method and is a public dispute in court where a judge will decide the terms of your divorce based on the information presented by your attorney and the other party’s attorney. Sometimes, people enter a litigation because they are angry at the other person and insist on this public battle.
The other reason people litigate is fear. They fear that they won’t be able to get the financial agreement they want, or what they will get won’t be enough. So they believe the court can come up with a more agreeable result. People can also enter a litigation out of greed and inability to settle the case on reasonable terms.
- Negotiation: Most divorce cases are resolved through settlement. In fact, over 95 percent of divorce cases reach an out-of-court settlement agreement. However, this method can often fail if there are complicated financial situations or when assets are of a significant amount. Sometimes, one party, for example a husband who has been in charge of the finances in the marriage, hides details of the financial situation from his wife. Negotiation will not work if this is the case. On the other hand, if the negotiation method is successful then the couple will find that the legal process is much faster and less expensive than litigation.
- Mediation: This is when a neutral party helps both sides reach an agreement that covers all or most of their demands. This neutral party, the mediator, doesn’t have to be a lawyer, but must be knowledgeable about divorce and family law. The mediator must also make sure to never advocate for either party.
A divorce mediation will expedite the divorce proceedings, reduce expenses, and possibly make it easier for your children because a mediation will be more peaceful than a litigation. However, this method can also have its negatives, leading to legal complications; if it’s poorly drafted, it can be challenged at a later point in time.
A divorce can be a taxing time for both parties involved, and even more so for any children involved. No two marriages are the same and no two divorces can be the exact same. Keeping this in mind, always hire an experienced attorney who will help you get the best deal while reaching a mutually agreeable settlement for both parties. Always talk with several lawyers and mediators before choosing the right path for your divorce proceedings.