We’ve posted a number of entries concerning the benefits of settling a divorce as opposed to litigation. Even if you need to litigate, more than 95% of cases will settle before trial.

The following settlement checklist will come in handy as you attempt to figure out if you’ve got all of your bases covered:

  1. Legal Custody: Joint or sole legal custody?
  2. Physical Custody: Joint or sole physical custody?
  3. Routine Access Schedule: Where will the children be on a given day?
  4. Vacation Access Schedule: How many weeks of uninterrupted vacation time with the children?
  5. Holiday Access Schedule: Who do the children celebrate with in a given year?
  6. School-Year Breaks: Where will the children spend spring break or President’s Day, for example?
  7. Telephone Contact: What are the rules concerning communication with the children by phone?
  8. Transportation: Who will transport the children for parenting time exchanges?
  9. Basic Child Support: What is the amount of guideline support to be paid?
  10. Medical/Dental Child Support: Who will insure the children and how will uninsured costs be allocated?
  11. Child Care Support: How much will each parent pay for daycare?
  12. Security for Support: Should one or both parents secure life insurance, naming the other as beneficiary for the benefit of the children?
  13. Income Tax Exemptions: Who claims the children on their income taxes?
  14. Spousal Maintenance/Alimony: How much and for how long?
  15. Medical Insurance: Will each party cover their own?
  16. Marital Property: What is a fair and equitable way to value and divide marital property?
  17. Non-Marital Property: Does the holder of a non-marital interest retain that interest?
  18. Pre-Separation Debts: How is the marital debt divided?
  19. Post-Separation Debts: How are debts accrued after separation divided?
  20. Fees and Costs: Will one party pay, or each responsible for their own attorney fees and costs?
  21. Name Change: Does either spouse wish to change their name?
  22. Ongoing Conflicts: Will the parties agree to mediate or use a parenting time consultant if future problems arise?
  23. Documents: Do each agree to execute all paperwork necessary to transfer property interests?
  24. Non-Disclosure: Does the court retain the ability to re-open the case if it is revealed that one party has hidden assets from the other?

Naturally, there are many other issues that will need to be addressed, but the 24 items listed above will give you a general framework for discussion.