What Should I Ask for in a Divorce Settlement?

Once you’ve made the decision to divorce, you’ve still got a long list of difficult decisions ahead of you. One of those is what you want to ask for in your divorce settlement. This process can go very smoothly or be extremely time-consuming and adversarial, depending on your relationship with your ex-partner and how much you two are willing to compromise.

If you’re not sure what you should try to get out of a fair divorce settlement, we’re here to help. Call Olmstead & Olmstead at 703-361-1555 to schedule a consultation to discuss your options.

Start With a Full Understanding of Your Case

Any major decision has to start with full disclosure. You can’t know what to expect from your divorce settlement if you don’t know what kind of position you are currently in. For example, if you and your partner have tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt that you accumulated together, it’s unrealistic to expect a divorce settlement where you walk away with none of it. If you have built a business together with shared labor and funds, it’s unlikely you’ll get to keep the whole thing without giving up something else. Take a long and thorough look at your finances and assets to understand your options better.

Decide What is Non-Negotiable and What Is Open to Compromise

Once you know what you are working with, it’s time to think about what is most important to you. Keep in mind that it is rare for one party to walk away with everything they want in a divorce, unless they happen to have the upper hand in some way. Because of this, you have to be realistic in deciding what is non-negotiable, what you are willing to compromise on, and what you really don’t care about. Use the list below to help you decide what fits into each category.

Division of Assets and Debts

The division of assets and debts is a huge part of the divorce process for most couples, particularly those who have sizable assets or who have built up a large net worth over a long marriage. When looking at your debts, consider whether they are unsecured or secured.

Secured debts are likely to remain with the party who keeps the asset associated with the debt, while unsecured debts are slightly more flexible. When thinking about assets, consider both liquid funds and long-term investments, such as rental properties and retirement accounts. If there is one asset you are absolutely determined to keep, you may have to get it by waiving your rights to other assets.

Child Custody

For parents, determining child custody and a visitation schedule is often one of the most painful and emotionally charged decisions. There’s a lot to consider in this area, but the most important factor to keep in mind is what is best for the child. This is what guides the court’s decisions, and if you come to an agreement that does not reflect what is best for the child, it is likely that the court will reject your settlement.

Consider what the parenting arrangements were during the marriage, who has the time to serve as primary parent (if joint custody is not an option), and how you will ensure that the child has meaningful time with both parents. Your decisions regarding child custody will guide any subsequent child support agreement.


Although alimony has become less common in recent years, it is still awarded in many divorces. It’s particularly common in marriages where one party gives up their career to serve as homemaker or primary parent. If you hope to receive or avoid paying alimony, think about what you are willing to give up in order to make that happen. Even if you do receive alimony, remember that permanent alimony is a rare arrangement, so you’ll need to plan long-term.

Take the Next Step in Your Divorce Case with Olmstead & Olmstead

You can make the divorce process much easier on yourself by choosing an attorney you trust to guide you through this difficult time. The team at Olmstead & Olmstead is here to provide the legal guidance and support you need to make informed decisions. To learn more about your legal options, call us at 703-361-1555 or reach out to us online.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *