Traditional Divorce Settlement
Some Nashville area divorce clients prefer to work with one of our family law attorneys to help them negotiate an out of court settlement without using the collaborative divorce process specifically. The Traditional Divorce Settlement model looks different in different cases but tends to be more pared down than Collaborative Divorce, usually because the parties have a very uncomplicated financial estate, they do not have children together, there are no potentially problematic emotional/ relational issues at play between the parties, or some combination of all three.
Here are some specific ways Negotiated Settlement cases can look although we are open to discussing with you how to set up a model that best meets you and your family’s needs:
- One Attorney Model – While no Tennessee attorney can ethically represent two parties in the same divorce, sometimes Papa and Roberts, PLLC represents one party and the other party chooses to be unrepresented. In those cases, after all of the relevant paperwork and other information is gathered so that everyone understands the contents of the marital estate and can make informed decisions, one of our lawyers facilitates a settlement conference where the parties agree to terms regarding property/debt division, spousal support (if applicable) and divorce-related parenting issues if the parties have children together. This model is only advisable in very straightforward cases and our attorneys can help you assess whether this model can work for your family.
- One Attorney plus Mental Health Coach - In cases where emotions are high, but one of the parties nonetheless prefers not to have his or her own attorney, the parties may choose instead to bring a neutral licensed mental health professional (referred to as a “Coach”) into the settlement negotiations to help the parties constructively work through the emotional issues that so often arise in divorce settlements, while the divorce attorney focuses more specifically on the legal issues and settlement documents. Both the Coach and the attorney, using their professional judgment, need to feel like this model will work for the parties before it would be used. If either the Coach or the attorney thinks the unrepresented party needs his or her own attorney, they will advise the client accordingly and would not proceed with this model.
- One Attorney plus Financial Professional - In other cases, emotions may be more contained, but the finances are complicated enough that either the attorney or one or both of the parties decide to bring in a neutral financial expert to sort through the financial issues before the parties make decisions regarding property division and/or spousal support in the settlement process. These professionals, typically called “Financial Neutrals,” can help the parties and lawyer understand more of the nuances about how finances work, including how assets appreciate and depreciate over time; the tax implications of various settlement ideas; and how to carefully develop a post-divorce budget so that the parties can make informed decisions about what to do with various assets (e.g. keep the house or sell it?) before they sign off on an unwise financial agreement.
- Two Attorney Model - Finally, at Papa & Roberts we also represent clients in settlement negotiations where the other party is represented by another attorney, but both parties and both lawyers are interested in working toward an agreement. This model looks similar to traditional divorce negotiation, but is still focused on treating the divorce as a problem to be solved rather than a zero sum game competition, as is true in contested litigation. While the lawyers at Papa & Roberts, PLLC obviously cannot control how other attorneys represent their clients, we have a long and proven track record of working with lawyers from across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin Tennessee in successfully negotiating divorce settlements, avoiding the extraordinary cost, stress, and loss of control associated with divorce litigation.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In any divorce model, both parties are always free to hire their own attorney if they so choose for any or no reason. Insofar as some of the options discussed above indicate one party is not represented by an attorney, the unrepresented party is always free to change his or her mind at any point in the process and seek legal counsel. Similarly, the attorneys at Papa & Roberts, PLLC may determine a particular case is not suitable to have only one attorney involved and may choose to end the firm’s representation if the unrepresented party continues not to seek independent counsel.