After many years of collaborative divorce practice as a Long Island Divorce Attorney, many of our clients have expressed confusion regarding their 4-Way Settlement Conferences. In this article, we hope to clear up some of the confusion and demystify the experience.
What is a 4-Way Settlement Conference?
Many of our clients have apprehensions when we mention the phrase “settlement conference.” It seems that many are overwhelmed at the thought of having to sit down with his or her spouse and two other attorneys to negotiate the very private details of their divorce. This is totally understandable, but we do our best to put this in perspective. It is easier for many of our clients to sit down at a table in a more informal setting with a few other people who you are relatively familiar with, rather than go into court and have a stranger decide your case.
The 4-Way Settlement Conference is a very important tool in settling your divorce case. It’s also very useful if you are attempting to keep your case out of court and away from contentious, and usually expensive, litigation.
Should I discuss my goals with my attorney before my 4-Way Conference?
The short answer is absolutely. As you have probably already gleaned, your 4-Way Settlement Conference is scheduled with a clear goal in mind – to settle. If your attorney does not know your desires before entering into negotiations, your attorney will not be able to do his or her job to the best of his or her ability. In addition to knowing your goals, your attorney needs to know what is most important to you. He or she needs to be made aware that, for example, Child Visitation during the holidays is your number one concern, but the china you received at your wedding can be parted with. Having your priorities known is one of the most crucial aspects of negotiation.
Who does most of the talking during the Conference?
This is a common question asked by many of my clients. My answer is always the same, and usually met with some eye rolling – it depends. I have been to many 4-Way Settlement Conferences in which the clients do little to no talking whatsoever. The attorneys do almost all of the talking and great strides are made. Alternatively, I have been to other 4-Way Settlement Conferences in which I have barely spoken at all. The clients negotiate amongst themselves, and, again, great strides are made. It truly depends on your situation. Because of this unknown, it is important that you are prepared to voice your own opinions and wishes at your 4-Way Settlement Conference, rather than just relying solely on your attorney.
What should I know before going into my 4-Way Settlement Conference?
There are a few things that I always inform my clients of before entering their 4-Way Conference.
First, it’s important to keep an open mind and to respectfully listen to your spouse when he or she (or his or her attorney) talks. This is important to remember as your 4-Way Settlement Conference will only be as successful as you allow it to be and it cannot be so unless you keep an open mind and listen to your spouse.
Second, you need to remember that your attorney is always advocating for you. A 4-Way Settlement Conference is not the time or place to get into a debate over who did what, but is rather a tool used to understand where the other person is coming from. Your attorney needs to know what your spouse wants in order to best represent your interests. Be patient with your attorney, and be confident in the fact that he or she is advocating for you at every stage of your divorce.
Lastly, you should be open to new and/or different solutions to issues in your divorce. It is very often that your spouse’s attorney will come up with solutions that you have not thought of. It’s important to consider those options and not just reject them because they are proposed by your spouse or his or her attorney.
As a final note, it is also important to remember that Rome was not built in a day. You may have multiple 4-Way Settlement Conferences in which you and your spouse iron out the issues surrounding your divorce. Do not be discouraged, but rather focus on the fact that each 4-Way Settlement Conference is taking you a step closer to being divorced, without any court intervention.
Need More Information About 4-Way Settlement Conferences on Long Island? Contact Us
If you would believe you would like to utilize this important tool during your Long Island Divorce, feel free to call our Divorce Law Firm at 631-923-1910 to schedule your free consultation. We would be happy to help you reach an amicable conclusion to your divorce.
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