Things to Ask for in a Divorce Settlement

By River Braun, J.D.

Things to Ask for in a Divorce Settlement

By River Braun, J.D.

A divorce is not only the legal process of ending a marital union, but it also involves the separation of a couple's assets and debts. If a couple has minor children, the divorce process includes custody, support, and visitation decisions as well. In many cases, both spouses feel entitled to the largest portion of the marital assets. They may also feel they are the best parent to have sole legal and physical custody of their child.

Person pointing to a document while another person signs

No one wants to feel like they "lose" the divorce. Unfortunately, very few people "win" in a divorce action. However, a spouse can and should expect a fair settlement. Preparation is the key to negotiating a fair divorce settlement, and knowing what to ask for is an important step in that preparation.

Considerations to Make About What to Ask for in a Divorce Settlement

In a divorce settlement, the four main issues to resolve are domestic support obligations, property division, apportionment of marital debt, and custody. Before asking for things in a divorce settlement, it is important to think through these key issues.

Marital Home

Remaining in the marital home can be very important, especially when minor children are involved. If you want to retain the marital home but are not awarded your spouse's equity in the home as part of the divorce settlement, you may need to purchase it. Because of this, you should carefully consider whether staying in the marital home is a financially sound decision for your future before asking for this asset in a divorce settlement.

Life Insurance and Health Insurance Policies

If your spouse covers your health insurance, you may want to ask for continued coverage as part of the settlement. Health insurance purchased outside of a group plan can be very expensive. You may also want your spouse to purchase or continue paying for life insurance coverage for you with your children as the beneficiaries.

Division of Debt

Division of debt can be difficult in a divorce. Joint debts may not be joint in the sense that both spouses incurred the debt. List all debts you and your spouse owe, both jointly and individually, to determine which debts you believe you should be liable for after the divorce. Be prepared to explain your reasons for the division of debts.

Private School Tuition and College Tuition

Even though your children may not be in school yet, you may want to ask for payment of private school tuition and college tuition. Settling this issue during divorce settlement negotiations may be easier and more beneficial for you than addressing this issue in a few years.

Family Heirlooms and Jewelry

Jewelry and family heirlooms may have significant meaning for you. Making a list of these items in order of preference can be very helpful, especially if you need to bargain for them during the negotiations.

Parenting Time

Unless there is a reason why your child should not spend time with your ex-spouse, equal parenting time can be beneficial for everyone. Your child continuing to develop a close relationship with both parents is typically in their best interests. In addition, equal parenting time often reduces conflict between ex-spouses and reduces child care expenses for both parents.

Retirement Funds

The division of retirement funds is an extremely critical issue during divorce negotiations for couples married for many years or who may be nearing retirement age. It is essential that you demand your fair share of retirement funds, especially since you cannot rely on your spouse's Social Security or pensions once you divorce.

Negotiating a Fair Divorce Settlement

The laws related to property division, custody, alimony, child support, and other issues vary by state. Some of the things you ask for in a divorce settlement may not be granted because of the laws in your state.

However, taking the time to think about what you want and need from a divorce settlement to support yourself and your children now and in the future can help you negotiate a settlement that is fair and beneficial for you. If you are unsure about what your rights, consider working with a divorce attorney. Each spouse can and should expect a fair settlement.

Knowing what to ask for in divorce negotiations is complicated. But taking time think through your own situation and best interests, as well as those of your children, is key to negotiating a fair divorce settlement.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.