After years of struggling to keep your marriage afloat without success, you are relieved to finally kiss your marriage goodbye. However, you immediately tense up when you think about having to fight over money and other assets with your soon-to-be ex at trial.

The reality is that you may be able to avoid going to trial altogether as you move forward with your marital breakup. Informal negotiations are oftentimes an effective way for married couples in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to resolve their divorce disputes without further court intrusion.

What happens during divorce negotiation?

If you and your future ex-spouse decide to go through informal negotiations, you will essentially discuss with the other party what your wants and needs are as part of the divorce proceeding. You will also listen to your future ex’s needs and desires. Then, you will strive to find common ground and put together a written settlement agreement that satisfies both sides.

Your agreement may cover topics such as how you will split your retirement accounts, the money in the bank and other assets, such as your motor vehicles. Your agreement might also spell out who gets to keep the family home, or you and the other party might indicate that you have agreed to sell the house and simply split the proceeds.

Your settlement agreement

Once you have drafted a settlement agreement, the agreement will go in front of a judge for approval. A judge from the same county where you or your spouse filed the divorce petition will need to review and approve the agreement.

The judge will likely hold an informal hearing, where you and your future ex may have to answer basic questions, such as whether you both signed the agreement on a voluntary basis. If your answers please the judge and he or she feels that the agreement is fair, he or she will approve it.

Alternative to informal divorce negotiations

Most divorcing spouses are able to reach settlements and thus avoid going through traditional litigation. However, you and your spouse may not see eye to eye on important divorce issues, in which case you have no choice but to go to trial. At trial, you have the right to fight for your best interests given the circumstances surrounding this type of family law proceeding.