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How to Settle Your Divorce on Long Island, NY

divorce settlement As an experienced Divorce Lawyer on Long Island, I have helped many individuals through the process of contested divorce litigation and many others through the process of uncontested divorce, divorce mediation or collaborative divorce law in order to settle their divorce cases. While many individuals or couples getting divorced believe the only option is to fight to win or prove a point, eventually most divorce cases settle out of court.

There are 3 Main Issues to Resolve in Your Divorce Settlement:

  • Custody and Visitation of Children.
  • The main principle which governs custody and visitation is the best interests of the children. Support of children is governed by the Child Support Standards Act which provides a formulaic way of calculating child support.
  • Support of the children and/or a spouse.
  • There is no formula for calculating spousal support upon the conclusion of a divorce case it is governed by 20 statutory factors.
  • Equitable Distribution of Assets.
  • Distribution of marital assets and marital debts are governed by the Equitable Distribution Law which basically guides courts in determining a fair distribution of assets and debts. Fair does not necessarily mean equal.

In my experience, I have observed the following common keys to settlement of divorce cases on Long Island:

#1. Know Your Divorce Goals

In a divorce case, obtaining a divorce is always the general goal, but, you also need to determine your specific goals for yourself and your family. A goal isn’t just, “I want the house,” it is more abstract than that. You need to understand the “Whys” of your goals. I want the house can mean “I want a sense of security,” or, “I don’t want our children to be forced to move.” Goals are very rarely about objects or things. Goals are statements about our desires. You will be best served to write down your goals for yourself and your children because if you don’t, it is just a thought. Writing it down gives your thoughts meaning once you understand the “Whys” behind it. Once you have written your goals down, you can work with your divorce lawyer to develop a plan to achieve those goals. There are many methods to achieving your divorce on Long Island and understanding your goals and objectives will go a long way toward determining the best, most practical method of achieving your divorce. Some goals are better achieved through divorce litigation, but, if you and your spouse share common goals regarding your children, then, settlement is probably your best option. If you and your spouse can agree upon your goals, you might be best served with an alternative dispute resolution process like divorce mediation or collaborative divorce.

#2. Know the Law Regarding Divorce on Long Island, NY

Knowing the law is key to formulating a good settlement for yourself. Clients often ask me, “How do I know whether a settlement is good without knowing the law?” The law is an important factor in developing a settlement, but, it should not be the deciding factor. What I mean is that if you want the resolution of your divorce case to mirror “the law,” then you can simply have a trial and let the judge make the decision. The judge is bound to follow the law, but when you and your spouse negotiate your own settlement, you can pick and choose what aspects of the law to follow and others from which you want to deviate in order to achieve the best resolution for you and your family. On Long Island, divorce cases are governed by the New York State Domestic Relations Law.

What Are 4-Way Settlement Conferences in Divorce?

In my over 20 years of experience as a divorce attorney, I have learned that Long Island divorce cases often involve what are known as 4-Way Settlement Conferences among divorcing couples and their attorneys.

If you are considering retaining a Long Island divorce lawyer, you may have heard the term “4-Way Settlement Conference.” You are likely wondering what exactly this is and what role it plays in your divorce. While the term sounds scary, it is an extremely useful tool your attorney has in his or her pocket that will help keep you and your spouse out of litigation and away from the courts if done correctly. The following are a few useful tips and suggestions to be aware of before sitting down for your first 4-Way Settlement Conference.

Discuss Your Wants & Needs with Your Divorce Attorney Beforehand

the purpose of a 4-Way Settlement Conference is exactly that: a settlement. As I am sure your Long Island divorce attorney will advise you, “a good settlement is reached when neither party is happy”; that means that neither you nor your spouse received everything requested. Your divorce attorney is going to need to be aware of those items which are most valuable to you, whether they be child support, spousal maintenance or continuing to reside in the marital residence, so he or she can use other items as bargaining chips to get you closest to an ideal settlement.

Be Prepared to Speak up If Necessary

As the client, you play an important role at a 4-Way Settlement Conference. In my 15 years of experience I have been party to settlement conferences where the attorneys took the lead and the client’s simply listened. However, I have also been party to settlement conferences where the clients did most, if not all, of the talking and negotiating between themselves. The attorneys were simply there to act as referees and advise their clients. We can never know which way a settlement conference will go beforehand. Therefore, make sure you are prepared to voice your opinions in the event your settlement conference becomes more “hands-on.”

Listen and Respect the Desires of Your Spouse

I understand that you may find it particularly hard to care what your spouse wants right now. However, a 4-Way Settlement Conference will only be successful if you are both respectful of the other’s thoughts, feelings and desires. These conferences are collaborative in nature and if you enter the room ready to jump down your spouse’s throat it will be a waste of time.

Your Attorney Is Advocating For You

Prior to entering a settlement conference I tell my clients that they will inevitably walk away feeling as though I did not fight for their interests. This is natural. These conferences are not the time for your divorce attorney and your spouse’s divorce attorney to engage in a contest to determine who is better at their job. If you want your attorney to do this, a settlement conference will not prove fruitful. These conferences are a time to gauge your desires and your spouse’s desires so you both know where the other stands.

Be Open to New and Different Ideas

Your spouse’s attorney may suggest solutions to issues their neither you nor your attorney thought of. Rather than automatically rejecting these ideas simply because they came from your spouse or their divorce attorney, Long Islanders are encouraged to consider them. They may have the potential to solve problems while keeping everyone happy.

You Will Walk Away Realizing How Close You Really Are

Many couples focus only on the big ticket items when going through their Nassau County or Suffolk County divorce – the children and the marital residence. However, a settlement conference will allow you to see that other issues, such as automobiles, joint banking accounts, retirement benefits or even the family pet are agreed upon. Knowing only two or three issues remain can alleviate a large amount of the stress involved in the divorce process.

A number of my clients are reluctant to agree to a 4-Way Settlement Conference with their spouse and their spouse’s divorce attorney. However, in my over 20 years of experience I have found these conferences extremely useful. If the first conference is successful, we will likely schedule another to iron out any remaining issues. Before you know it, your Long Island Divorce will be settled without you ever having to step foot in a Nassau County or Suffolk County, Long Island, NY Divorce courtroom.

2 Important Keys to a Successful Divorce Settlement

#1. Know How to Compromise

A wise Long Island Divorce judge often told litigants that a good settlement in a divorce case was like dining at a fine French restaurant: the meal tasted good, but on the way home, you need to stop for a sandwich because you are still hungry. A good settlement is much the same: some aspects taste good to you, but, you are still craving more. If your spouse feels the same way, then, the settlement is probably fair. In other words, no one gets everything they want from a fair divorce settlement. You have to give a little to get a little. A good settlement would not leave one spouse completely happy and the other upset and feeling taken advantage of. When both individuals feel they got what they needed, but not everything they wanted, then the settlement is probably fair. Another way of saying this is you are probably not going to get everything you want. You may be thinking “Why is my divorce attorney saying this?” I tell clients that I am saying this because it is true. If you both want the house or custody of your children, someone is going to lose, but, if you settle and compromise, you might find a way for both of you get something you want without feeling as though you have lost everything.

#2. Know When it is Time to Move On

Divorce is not easy and brings with it a wide range of emotions. Sometimes individuals fight during a divorce to prove a point to the other side. But, standing on your principles can come at a cost. The practice of divorce law is an hourly practice just for this reason. Your divorce lawyer has no idea how long your divorce case will take to resolve. One hour, 10 hours, 100 hours, etc. – it all depends upon you and your spouse and how willing you are to negotiate. Also, the Divorce Courts on Long Island are over worked; there are simply not enough judges for the number of divorce cases waiting to be heard. So, if you wish to battle to prove a point, plan on spending 10s of thousands of dollars and possibly years of your life. If your divorce case lasts two years and you live to be 80 years old, that means you would have spent 2.5% of your life fighting against one individual. Is that how you want to spend your life. Life is too short, let your divorce lawyer help you make calculated decisions so that you can find a fair compromise and settle your case so that you don’t spend your future and needless years of your life fighting in court. Also, if your divorce lawyer seems more interested in fighting with your spouse or the other attorney than you are, it is possible that your divorce lawyer is looking to play your emotions into a long drawn out divorce case to make more money. Don’t become a victim in that regard either. Your divorce lawyer is supposed to be working for your interests, not his or her own. Always remember that you are allowed to change divorce lawyers during your case if you are not happy.

Need Help with Your Divorce Settlement?

I hope that sharing the insight I have gained as a practicing divorce lawyer on Long Island helps you reach a fair and amicable settlement of your divorce case. Long Island residents who need more information about 4-Way Settlement Conferences should consult a local divorce attorney. Long Island’s Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., PC’s compassionate and experienced divorce attorneys can help you prepare you and ensure you, and your family’s future is protected. Call us today at 631-923-1910 for a complimentary, confidential consultation or fill out the short form on this page and we’ll get right back to you.

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Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.
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