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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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  #1  
Old 02-28-2019, 07:27 PM
Selfrepmom Selfrepmom is offline
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Default Strategy for Settlement Conference

Would be interested in hearing anybodyís settlement strategies they had during their case.

I have an SC coming up... is it advisable to submit an offer to Settle with an expiration date, followed by a second, slightly better, offer to Settle which expires upon the commencement of the SC?
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Old 02-28-2019, 07:31 PM
Mom 2 Two Mom 2 Two is offline
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I have one coming as well. Would love a strategy, as I seem to be getting slammed


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Old 03-01-2019, 09:38 AM
ifonlyihadknown ifonlyihadknown is offline
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Are there any really important issues? Such as custody?

In my case, the only issues were financial and nothing was a real emergency. The case conference and settlement conference were a colossal waste of time and money. Still, I went through the motions. Send an offer to settle to the other side, prepared my brief, etc. The judge just flipped through things and give their non-binding opinion.

In my case, I hired a lawyer for a couple of hours to show me how a brief was expected to look, and to review what I had prepared. This saved me several thousand dollars.
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Old 03-01-2019, 10:50 AM
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It is always advisable to submit an official offer to settle. I cannot think of a single exception off the top of my head.
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Old 03-01-2019, 01:12 PM
SurftheWave SurftheWave is offline
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Make sure you and your lawyer are aggressive to communicate the points in your brief to the judge. The judge will form his/her own conclusion of how you should settle which may or may not inline with what you exactly want.

Make sure you or your lawyer clearly communicate to the judge the points that you and the judge are not in agreement with an why. For example, if the judge says doing shared custody is best and you disagree because the ex works crazy hours and can't accommodate a 50/50 schedule or lives too far away, make sure the judge hears you maybe they will recommend in your favor to settle. Offer a fair solution then that is different than what you or your ex want (say EOW schedule with summers at other parents house). That way it looks like you are not getting what you want, neither is the ex and you are compromising on a settlement.

Try to put in your brief at the top a summary of the issues. Then go into depth about them down in your brief. That way you can simply refer to the issues to try and get the ex to settle. For example:

Summary of Issues:
1. Access Schedule - 50/50 week on/off or EOW.
2. Child Support - Full Table or Set-Off.
3. School - My district or theirs.
4. etc. etc.
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Old 03-01-2019, 03:59 PM
Selfrepmom Selfrepmom is offline
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Thanks for the input!

-Separated 3.5 years, no written agreement, one child in kindergarten
-I have been primary caregiver this entire time (ex is one who suggested current schedule of EOW)
-Ex voluntarily paid approx guideline support for 1st year
-Stopped paying in 2017
-I filed for CS and joint custody with primary caregiver status (preserving status quo AND suggesting extra time for him)
-He filed a response for 50/50 access, offset CS and half of tax benefits to him
-Child is in school. School is not in his city. He lives 20 mins away and is now claiming he does not have a vehicle to drive. He has not submitted a parenting plan detailing what this proposed 50/50 access schedule would look like
-Since original application, he continues to cancel access time/cut it short almost every time
-No police or CAS involvement. No DV accusations or any of that crap. No material change in circumstances to warrant a significant change. I have never withheld access once, even when CS stopped. Quite the opposite, I have been offering MORE access (documented) which always gets denied

I KNOW without a doubt he is motivated by money. My main concern is getting what our current custody arrangement is into writing and signed, along with an order for the proper amount of CS.

Should I just make my best offer off the bat, or submit an offer first that includes things that I may be willing to negotiate on and let him/his lawyer work me down to what I am already willing to give up?
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Old 03-01-2019, 05:06 PM
ifonlyihadknown ifonlyihadknown is offline
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In my experience, if you make a reasonable offer to settle, and include the information in your settlement conference brief, the judge should basically tell your ex that he is being unreasonable and if it goes to trial, he will loose. Hopefully, that will convince him to settle. Otherwise, it's off to trial.
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Old 03-03-2019, 02:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Selfrepmom View Post
I KNOW without a doubt he is motivated by money. My main concern is getting what our current custody arrangement is into writing and signed, along with an order for the proper amount of CS.
Why is that a concern? Are you motivated by money? What do you need from him beyond a stable schedule and money?

If he was motivated by money you might think he would be tempted to keep as much parenting time as possible. Offhand, I think it sounds more like incompetance than some evil scheme.

Quote:
Should I just make my best offer off the bat, or submit an offer first that includes things that I may be willing to negotiate on and let him/his lawyer work me down to what I am already willing to give up?
You want to make an offer to settle that is the best offer you can make. That offer expires one minute after the trial (or motion) starts. In your application to the court, you ask for more than your offer. Your goal is to beat your offer.

So, let's say table support is $900 a month. You perhaps offer to let him pay $800 a month. In court, you ask for the $900 a month, the judge will not even see that you offered him the $800. I know you are self repped, but you can still get awarded costs for beating your offer to settle.

You also want to make the offer severable. Break up everything into sections that he can accept or reject individually

eg.

Section A: EOW parenting plan
Section B: 90% of table CS
Section C: Income imputed at $30,000 a year
Section D: Section 7 expenses split at some percentage
Section E: whatever else you guys are fighting about (Christmas, march break, school decision, stuff)

If you don't make it severable, you have to beat your offer in every respect. Making a severable offer also makes your trial shorter, which isn't a bad thing.
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:53 AM
Selfrepmom Selfrepmom is offline
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Janus:

Thank you for the detail, and the idea to break everything into sections. I will definitely structure my offer like that.

I want to get our custody/access schedule into writing mainly because he is just so all over the map, and he likes to bully me into things. Having an order that specifies dates and times would be a relief because I can say ďno, you canít drop her off a day early. We go by our orderĒ
Am I motivated by money? Slightly. But considering I went without any from him for almost 2 years, itís not the be all end all for me. I want base support (itís not going to be more than $300-$350 even if income is imputed)going forward. Section 7ís would be nice too (I wouldnít even bother for extracurricular, mainly just for summer care). I think retroactive is going to be my main bargaining chip and something I can live without. I like the idea of sections because I want to offer him more time and a deal on retroactive. If it is all together he would probably just decline the whole thing. If itís separate, there is a good chance he will accept the retroactive deal, but decline the extra time.

My actual deepest darkest concern in all of this is that this whole process is just going to enrage him further and he will walk away from our daughter, who absolutely adores him and thinks he is superman. Our very first case conference they had us go talk to the mediator to see if mediation was a possibility. The mediator told him he was going to have to start paying CS. He told her if that was the case he would just sign off on his parental rights to me. She told him he would STILL be responsible for CS. He blew up and stormed out of the courthouse.

It will completely tear me apart if I ever have to tell her that she canít go spend time with him anymore.
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Old 03-04-2019, 01:47 PM
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The thing to also considered mentioned above already but, I wanted to highlight is "compromise". You have to truly understand where you are willing to compromise. The proper compromise can gain significant "good faith" from the other party and compromises that are really important to you. Barter on compromises... Don't fight over wants.
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