Negotiating Your Divorce Decree

A couple negotiates their divorce decree

As anyone going through the process themselves will know, getting a divorce involves several hurdles. A divorce decree can seem like the light at the end of the tunnel after months of toil — but negotiation has its own set of challenges.

To avoid common stumbling blocks and problems when carrying out a divorce in Virginia, make sure you know exactly what to expect and how to achieve success.

What Is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is a document that officially ends a marriage and contains information about the court’s conclusion. After a judge signs it, the divorce will be finalized according to the terms outlined.

It serves the following purposes:

  1. Has details about the parties involved in the divorce, including any children from the marriage.
  2. Contains proof that the divorce process is in line with local law.
  3. Outlines how property and debt will be divided, plus details about spousal support if applicable.

As part of the second stage, Virginia law requires information about how parties are served, evidence that both parties are legal adults, the type of divorce in question (i.e., fault-based vs. no-fault), and how long the couple has been separated.

If applicable, it may also identify beneficiaries of any life insurance policies.

The level of detail required will depend on whether there’s already a property settlement agreement in place. If there’s no existing agreement, a divorce decree needs more information as it has the final say on important matters like how property and debt will be divided. But if there’s a settlement agreement signed by the parties, the Final Decree will incorporate those terms, meaning the Agreement will have the final say.

How to Negotiate a Divorce Decree Successfully

You can’t end your divorce without a decree, but it’s not the only thing you’ll need to make the process go smoothly. To navigate the process successfully, there are a few things you can do to help the process along.

One of the tensest parts of any divorce is agreeing on a settlement of properties and assets that everyone agrees is fair, all while preventing emotions from getting in the way. Mediation makes this more likely by guiding both parties involved toward cooperation and effective communication.

It’s a great option for couples who accept flexibility is necessary and want to come to a mutual agreement yet feel they need someone involved to make this process fair and more comfortable.

If you opt for mediation, it’s a good idea to use it to arrange a settlement agreement resolving most key issues (such as property division, parenting plans, spousal support) before the time comes around for a divorce decree. This way, you can simply incorporate it into the final decree and save yourself a difficult job.

Do Mediation the Right Way

Don’t fail at the final hurdle in the race that is your divorce — coast through to the finish line by opting for mediation. It’s the perfect way to ensure all parties involved feel they’ve been listened to and their interests have been represented, which helps to ease the process along.

A big part of making mediation successful is working with the right person. For that, Donita King is an experienced lawyer-mediator who specializes in divorce mediation. To find out more about how she can help you, contact her law offices today.

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Donita King

Ms. King is a member of the Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. State Bars. She also serves as a University of Richmond School of Law Adjunct Professor of Mediation. She previously served on the Virginia Bar Association Joint ADR Council (2015 Chair), and served for several years on the Governor of Virginia’s Interagency Dispute Resolution Council. Ms. King currently serves as a board member of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board by appointment of the Virginia Supreme Court and has been active with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Women in Business as well. Se habla espanol.

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