Tonight’s post was written by our Lawrenceville family law attorney, Brandy Alexander.
Life is stressful when you have a family law case pending. You can’t wait until the case is over because you’re losing sleep, you’ve bitten off every last nail that you had, your work is suffering and you’ve lost weight… well, okay, maybe that last one is not so bad. The bottom line is your world is upside down and it seems as though someone has hit the pause button on your life, leaving you unable to move forward until your case is resolved.
Then after much ado, the heavens open and you find yourself working on a Settlement Agreement. You can almost breath because your case is near it’s end.
But wait! You suddenly worry, what happens if aliens land on the second weekend of the month and your child is with her father that weekend?! Maybe you shouldn’t agree to second and fourth weekends after-all, maybe odd weekends are better because, after all, the odds of aliens invading Earth on an odd weekend is much smaller.
So you call your attorney and tell her you no longer agree to take the second and fourth weekends each month, you must take the odd weekends instead, because… ALIENS!
After your attorney speaks with Opposing Counsel (and doesn’t mention aliens), Opposing Counsel advises that your ex will take even weekends. You can breathe again.
A couple of days later, you speak to your best friend who tells you it’s crazy that you are giving up the Fourth of July! You try to explain to her that you don’t really do anything for the Fourth of July so it’s no big deal, but as you’re saying this, you realize, she’s right! Children love fireworks what kind of parent would you be if you gave up the Fourth of July and didn’t see your child’s face turn to all the various colors of the rainbow under the light of the fireworks.
So, you call your attorney and tell her you no longer agree to give your ex the Fourth of July each year! “I know I said I don’t really care about the Fourth of July but my friend made me realize that it’s dumb to give up that holiday. I’m being too nice!” Your attorney tries unsuccessfully to help you think through this change of heart but you remain unmoved.
Your attorney contacts Opposing Counsel who talks to his client who refuses to change one more agreed upon term. Not one. The Settlement is falling apart and you have no idea why.
Here’s the thing: it is extremely rare that either party is 100% happy with a settlement agreement. In order to get to a settlement, you must negotiate. In order to negotiate you must be willing to give up certain things in exchange for that which you want more. This applies to the other party as well.
A settlement agreement will cover just about every aspect of your divorce or visitation and custody agreement but it cannot and will not account for every possible thing that could happen from now until forever. I understand the desire to play the “but what if” game and sometimes it is certainly helpful, but don’t leave common sense at the door when discussing what should be included in your settlement and why.
Take logic and reason with you into the mediation, or the settlement conference or sit them next to you on the table as you talk to your attorney over the phone about why you want odd weekends or why you should get the child on the Fourth of July during even numbered years or any other item that seems vital to you.
Keeping logic and reason, common sense, close to you in this process will make your life far more simple and keep your pockets far more full.
And both of these are good things.