Your marriage is ending. The divorce process takes off and the wheels of motion will either be swift or slow depending on whether this is a contested divorce. Hiring a divorce lawyer is the best step to take, especially when it comes to property rights, money issues, and child support. An experienced attorney will guide you through the landmines of alimony, pension, child support, and custody-related rights. Knowing your legal rights, via a skilled attorney, is the best way to know if you’re getting a fair and equitable settlement.

There are many options available to divorcing couples, and some can make a divorce easy or hard. These options range from collaborative settlements, mediation, and if all else fails, then finalizing the divorce by trial. Trials are expensive and only take place many, many, months from when the divorce process first started. It is emotional draining and can leave scars. Therefore, settling early prevents the process from being dragged out for close to a year and increases the odds you’ll be cordial with your ex down the road.

Settling early can be achieved if both parties are willing to make concessions – they both must recognize that they can’t win every battle and get everything they want. Flexibility is key. If the couple hits a roadblock, then mediation can sometimes work magic. A mediator will help the parties arrive at a solution they can both live with.

Prenuptial agreements, which are also called pre-marital agreements, can go a long way in making divorce settlements easier. A prenup accomplishes this in a couple of ways. First, it specifically calls out which assets and debts belong to each party. There is no reason to fight over those. Additionally, the prenup document often describes which assets and debts AFTER the marriage belongs to which property. A common scheme is that each party keeps their own income and retirement plans, and only money put into a shared bank account is community property.

Documentation is key to achieving an easy divorce settlement. Especially if you neglected to get a prenuptial agreement. Documentation provides solid ground on claiming that property or money was owned before a marriage. Documentation shows whether you continued to support your child when you moved out of the house, and documentation shows what money and assets you gained while separated. That’s right – you want documentation showing what you gained after you separated because those assets are yours and yours alone.

Finally, couple often fight about money during a settlement. If you’re fortunate enough to live in Washington State, then there is not much controversy here as the child custody amount is set by state law. If your state, however, doesn’t have built in laws for child support then step back and ask yourself how much you really need. Being realistic and not overreaching goes a long ways of avoiding a drawn out divorce.