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Divorce/Separation :
Settlement conference advice.

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 Flaco (original poster member #80117) posted at 5:39 PM on Thursday, July 7th, 2022

Hey everyone.

Our settlement conference is this Monday. I’m wondering if anyone can give me an idea on what to expect.

What is the structure like?

How should I prepare?

How should I conduct myself?

This is in California if that helps. I really have no idea what to expect. Since my W had been to law school and her AP is a lawyer who has been through this thrice I feel I’m at a disadvantage.

I have talked to my lawyer but since they have been through these so frequently I don’t think they remember what it’s like for someone who has never experienced it.

I’m just looking for advice and experience so I can be mentally and logistically prepared. Any input is appreciated. Personal experiences, lessons learned, things you’d do differently, things you didn’t expect.

While I make a good living, my Wcurrently earns about 30% more than I do and we share expenses equally. It wasn’t always that way and when the pay disparity was reversed I generally paid more.

Again. I put and advice appreciated.

Sincerely

Flaco

DDay 12/6/20 married 13 years at that time. Me: BH 46. Her: WW 41
2 beautiful kids. Legally separating which may turn into D

posts: 51   ·   registered: Mar. 21st, 2022   ·   location: Sacto
id 8743684
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 11:27 PM on Friday, July 8th, 2022

Stay in separate rooms, is my first recommendation. That's the way we did it. Get everything important to you spelled out in the agreement is the other. Don't assume anything. If they try to railroad you, don't fold. Go to court instead.

Also, you'd be better off asking your attorney these questions. A lot of people answering these posts (yes, even about divorce and custody) have never been divorced. Make sure they speak from experience before taking their advice.

[This message edited by morningglory at 11:27 PM, Friday, July 8th]

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8743958
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homewrecked2011 ( member #34678) posted at 2:09 PM on Saturday, July 9th, 2022

We had separate rooms it was helpful, the attorneys worked things out in another room.

And, yes, the attys don’t really prepare us for this, but they try to explain it all that day. rolleyes

I took a deep breath and listened carefully.

I THINK her AP isn’t allowed there, if that helps.

Our debts and assets were divided equitably, but medical bills on the children were divided by income differences. And xh had to keep health ins on the children bc he made more than I did.

Try to be the parent who makes the final decision on medical, school issues, etc, if that’s a thing in CA. Also my atty told me not to bring up moving out of state since I was getting primary custody. (Because whatever I ask for, they would want something else negotiated).

But ask your atty if a parent can move away with the children if they are under 18. and who would pay transportation costs if it’s allowed. Many people on SI said they have in their final decree that no one can move the children, but I THINK it went to SCOTUS and parents can move to other states with the children bc of their work.

One main thing is this: my atty assumed the income from work was the W-2 and tax return. I argued with him until I told him to look at the last pay check stub from the previous year and the most current pay stub. Of course pre-tax money was going to life ins, 401k, disability ins, accident ins, on and on. So I got my settlement and child support based on his actual income.

In my case, both attys didn’t want to go to court, they said you never know what the judge would do, and we weren’t really wealthy, so they continued to work on details at the meeting. If I remember correctly, we had another settlement meeting later to work out other details.

I was told anything was negotiable!

Nowadays, the IRS lets parents claim the children on taxes even if the child doesn’t live with them, if it’s agreed on in a D decree. So, I was allowed to claim the eldest. When he turned 18, we were to alternate claiming the youngest. But the older one was in college, had been living with me, so I was able to continue to claim him as a dependent and I claimed the youngest on mine also on my years allowed. I would say where the child physically lives would matter. So if they are physically living with your Ww, then get the option to claim the youngest, if they live with you, then either one is ok, I think.

Our state doesn’t allow requiring a parent to pay for college, but your state might.

Look online for your states standard visitation, etc.

be sure to ask for for July 4 and Halloween to be alternate years as well as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.

If you own a home, that issue is probably going to be discussed. I really wanted the house and custody, so I secretly would have given up a lot for it. If your ww wants the house, I’d see what your atty says. I personally would have sold it before I let my xh have it, but some people here in SI preferred having the ws pay them cash for their part of the house to find a new place they could start over in.

Also if anything has to be done, put a timeline on it, like within 3 months of final hearing.

There are several people on SI involved in the legal field, so be sure to post after the meeting, too if you have questions.

[This message edited by homewrecked2011 at 1:16 AM, Sunday, July 10th]

Sometimes He calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage, but calms His child. Dday 12/19/11I went to an attorney and had him served. Shocked the hell out of him, with D papers, I'm proud to say!D final10/30/2012Me-55

posts: 5421   ·   registered: Jan. 30th, 2012
id 8744008
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ThisIsSoLonely ( member #64418) posted at 5:18 PM on Monday, July 11th, 2022

As someone who has attended many settlement conferences and even presided over a few (non-divorce) I would say be prepared to compromise on some things - make a list of things on the table from least important to most (least being the things you will care the least about if you have to give them up or compromise on them) and be prepared to convey that information to your counsel and the mediator. The mediator can only share what you would like them to so if you want something to remain confidential, say so (or alternatively say it is okay for them to convey something to the other side if everything is confidential unless permission is given).

It's okay to be emotional, but try your best to keep your emotions in check - hence the list. I have found if you make your list of things at issue and rank them in order of importance BEFORE you go into a settlement conference it helps keep you grounded and to not let your emotions govern your decisionmaking. In other words, even if you feel the other side is being unreasonable, and you feel like digging in your heels and not giving an inch, look to your list and remind yourself that gas grill, or whatever they want, isn't even on your list of important items so why do you now feel like you don't want to give it up. Save your strength for what matters to you.

As my former mention used to say at every settlement conference: The best settlements are where everyone goes away a little unhappy, because that means everyone compromised. It sucks, but be prepared to make compromises and go in knowing what you can live with giving up on/giving in.

EDIT: also, a divorce (like a marriage) is a contract - you can contract to do (or not do) just about anything. A friend is going through a divorce - the primary house mortgage is in his name (they are both on the deed) but his soon to be ex wife is living in the house with the kids and she wants to stay there, refinance it, and buy him out, which he is fine with. As part of their agreement she is paying half the mortgage until she can refinance (their earnings are relatively similar and this is not an infidelity divorce). The issue now is that her credit score isn't good enough to qualify, and she wants 6 months to a year to allow her to boost her score and refinance, and to continue to pay 1/2 the mortgage in the interim. Because currently the mortgage is in his name he is concerned that she will not pay her portion on time and damage his credit, and she has been late several times already (right now he is putting his half in an account and she is then paying the mortgage - and she refuses to do it any other way). He really wants her and the kids to be able to stay there, but he is afraid that she will continue to be late, and he will be stuck with allowing her to refinance for a year with no recourse. So the creative solution was that he agreed to the 1 year timeframe in 3 month increments - if she is late during the 3 month period the agreement terminates and they have to sell the house. It protects him and allows her to stay in the home so long as the mortgage continues to be paid on time.

That's just an example - but don't be afraid to look for creative solutions as sometimes they are out there.

[This message edited by ThisIsSoLonely at 5:26 PM, Monday, July 11th]

"Sometimes you're going to have to let one person go a thousand different times, a thousand different ways, and there’s nothing pathetic or abnormal about that. You are human." - Heidi Priebe

posts: 1848   ·   registered: Jul. 11th, 2018
id 8744218
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HalfTime2017 ( member #64366) posted at 3:30 AM on Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

Good luck tomorrow Flaco. It will work itself out.

posts: 1345   ·   registered: Jul. 5th, 2018   ·   location: Cali
id 8744307
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