Best Tips for Settlement Negotiation During Divorce


T.H.: Hey, welcome everybody. We have Joseph Willmore here from the Willmore Law Firm based in San Diego, California. He is going to share with us key tips for settlement. You’re in the middle of your divorce, everybody really does want it over, even though they may not seem to act that way, but Joseph is going to help guide you and give you some actionable tips that you can apply to try to settle your case. Welcome to our Divorce etc… podcast,

Joseph: Yes, T.H. and Jessica, thank you for having me.

T.H.: We see you on Instagram a lot. You share a lot of great messages, a lot of good tips, reality checks. I feel like we all need our expectations managed once in a while, especially during a divorce. Let’s get right into it. What is your number one tip? And these are in general terms, like certainly every circumstance is different. Not everybody likes each other. Not everybody can talk. You’re on a different scale of the level of animosity between people.

But let’s start with what’s your number one tip?

Joseph: I would actually narrow this down to three big components. And with regard to the client’s mentality at first is a two part thing: control your emotions and really narrow down what’s important to you. I have tons of cases recently that I just thought were destined for trial, that there was no reasonableness on part of my client or the other side, and that we did miraculously settle. We have a lot of creative ways of getting a client’s expectations brought back down to reality.

T.H.: How do you do that?

Joseph: That’s a lot of come-to-Jesus conversations. Sometimes that involves bringing in other experts as well. One case in particular that comes to mind is I had a client who could not see the light, no matter how good of a deal he got. Ultimately, this has been a case that’s been litigated since 2018. That is considered a legacy case at this point.

Jessica: It’s a long case.

Joseph: And I’ll be honest, the root of the problem was my client and his lack of reasonableness. We had this at a point where the wife on this case gave up hundreds of thousands of dollars of interest she had and a house they had, simply because she wanted it done. Even at that point, he couldn’t see how good of a deal it was. So of course he would be aggressive with me about me not wanting to fight for him, about no matter how much I outlined the bad results he would have gotten in trial, he just wouldn’t accept it. So in cases like that, that often involves bringing in third party experts to really help hammer that home, so that that client could see just how bad it would have been if he didn’t understand this. Sometimes it can take paying a number of other experts, whether it’s forensic accountants. In this case, we had a judge – not the judge on this case – but another judge that we had brought in to help him see that and help him understand that.

Jessica: I just want to stop for one second, because I feel something of your mic might be scraping as you’re moving. It’s maybe rubbing against something. We’re just getting a little bit of–

Joseph: A little bit of feedback?

Jessica: Static.

Joseph: I’m going to make sure we’re not–okay, how about I keep that a little further away.

T.H.: It sounds clean now.

Jessica: Perfect.

Joseph: Okay, perfect.

Jessica: Okay, so I mean, listen, we talk about that kind of stuff all the time, like managing your expectations and trying to keep your emotions out of it, two hugely important aspects of being able to work your way through a divorce. Because some people are so stuck in the resentment and the hatred and all of the bad feelings against their spouse, they’re not really making sense about what’s going on and what’s being presented to them. The fact that they’re paying their lawyers hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, whatever the case may be, extra in all of those legal fees by not agreeing to a settlement in the end. I think that is a really great place to start. What is your next tip when it comes to settling?

Joseph: The next tip is to learn what’s important to the other side.

That’s really having a good attorney that knows how to fish around with whether the other person, the other spouse, is self representative or they have an attorney. Having a good attorney that has that personality, has that tact to be able to go to the other side and learn what’s important to them, because that will help you frame a settlement. If you can essentially trick your spouse into thinking that they won something or got what they wanted, you might very likely take a lot more of other stuff, which can be substantially higher in value and put the clients in a much better position as well, because ultimately, we’re just trying to make sense of all the assets that exist. Does it really matter if they won in the sense of getting an asset that might not be worth that much in the grand scheme of things, and you take a lot more of something else? If you leave in the best financial position and actually at an advantage with regard to division of assets, you’re in a way better place.

T.H.: That’s really interesting. I thought what you were going to say was find out what’s most important to your own client, as opposed to finding out what’s important to the soon-to-be ex, so that you can use that as a leveraging point in negotiating a settlement.

Jessica: But he’s saying exactly that, but on the other side.

T.H.: No, I know. You’re going to the other side, like what does she care about the most? She wants the house? Okay, then let’s give her the house and take this instead.

Jessica: I feel like a lot of people get caught up in finding out what’s important to their soon-to-be ex spouse and then fighting even harder for it, even if they don’t want it, just to dig their heels in and try to not let the other person get what they want. Do you find that you’re in a lot of those situations?

Joseph: Oh, yes. Yes, I do. But again, those are those firm come-to-Jesus talks as far as explaining to the client, guiding them that, is that really worth fighting about, when ultimately, you’re going to cost yourself a lot if you guys want to fight about these things. Can you make your spouse’s life difficult? Can you make them miserable by fighting about that? Can you drive up their costs? Absolutely, but you’re also going to take yourself down with that too. If it’s about a certain asset, why don’t you look at the dollar value instead, and then look at the dollar value of other things? Ultimately, in the end, if you walk away with way more money because they got one piece that for whatever reason was very important to them, they’ll look back afterwards and say, oh, I really screwed up.

Jessica: Right.

T.H.: I actually have a quick story. I know someone who had a car that he owned, and she insisted on having the car. She had to have the car. She’s never driven the car, she didn’t like the car, she didn’t like being in the car, but she knew he loved the car, and she wanted the car. The funny part is that the car is actually not operable. He was like, fine take the car. The car’s all yours. Have fun. She spent all the money to fix it up, she still never drove it, and then she got stuck with the car and then gave it away or something. So that’s a perfect story of a waste of time and money for something that you don’t even care about. It’s not like you’re even enjoying the car.

Joseph: When we look at this, so say we don’t settle it, because people are just unwilling to concede on anything, ultimately, if you set the case for trial, the judge is just going to order everything be sold and you guys split the proceeds. You are going to lose if it comes down to I want this piece or want this asset. Neither of them are going to get it if you go to trial. So again, as far as settlement, that’s going to save both spouses a ton of money. It’s going to put you in a better position in the end, especially because you can tailor it so personally, whereas a judge is not going to look at anything specific. The judge is not going to look into your situation with any level of detail. They just look at this as if you’re a transaction. Okay, you’re before me, let’s divide it and send you on your way.

Jessica: What can you do as a lawyer to try to find out if the spouse, who’s your client, doesn’t know what’s important to the other side? How are you finding that out from the other person’s lawyer?

Joseph: I go to the other side and ask.

Jessica: And they usually tell you?

Joseph: If you are an at all sophisticated attorney with even a quasi decent personality, there’s a good chance that if you’re friendly with the other attorney and develop a decent working relationship with them, they’ll tell you a lot more than they’re supposed to tell you. So for me, it’s just a matter of going to the other side, being friendly and developing that rapport. A lot of times clients will think oh, well, you need to be a jerk to the other attorney because that’s “fighting” for me. But does that actually do the clients any assistance? No, of course not, because then if the attorneys can’t work to resolve any issues, you’re going to court on every little issue and having judges make decisions on all of that.

T.H.: And that’s exactly what happened to me.

Joseph: Yeah. I go to the other attorney and I ask what does your client want? What’s important to them, him, or her? What do they want? And then nine times out of 10, they’ll tell me. I can take that information back to my client. You’re absolutely right, plenty of clients will say, well, I want that too. But then that gives me the work to say, all right, well, let me explain how that will work if we fight about it. Ultimately, this boils down to money. How can we get you in the best financial position? And then ultimately, they’ll have the last laugh.

Jessica: Do you feel this also happens a lot with custody specifically, because I feel I know a lot of people who will fight like, I know that Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, and therefore I’m going to fight to the death to make sure that she doesn’t get Thanksgivings. Or like, I don’t want to say stupid shit, I guess, it’s not stupid shit to everybody, but I literally know of couples where one is Jewish and one is not, and they’ll be fighting for the opposite religion holidays, or saying they want them to rotate, when they don’t even celebrate those holidays, like stupid stuff just to screw the other side. I feel I’m curious whether or not–because what you’re talking about sounds like exactly that kind of thing when it comes to specific hard assets, but are you finding that with child custody agreements as well?

Joseph: People can be very, very petty when it comes to children as well, to no surprise. With regard to holidays specifically, ultimately, if that’s even put into question with the court, the court’s generally just going to say you guys can alternate all the holidays. Can that kind of screw over the other side say, for example, if somebody’s not Jewish, but they’re saying, well, I want to claim Jewish holidays as well? Yes. But ultimately, so will the Christmas holidays. That can be rotated as well. And then just everything gets rotated as a result. I would say some more specifics, as far as what people fight about with custody, can be drop off exchanges – whether that’s curbside, any type of interaction between the parents. This can boil down to fights where they will spend thousands of dollars fighting over a couple hours.

Jessica: Oh my God. It’s crazy.

Joseph: Yeah.

T.H.: So in my case, my ex was an absentee parent for four years, and then decided that he wanted 50/50 custody. Now, back in the day, it wasn’t parenting time, it was visitation. It was like Wednesdays and every other weekend. At the hot time that I got it, that was like the thing. It wasn’t week on, week off, 20/30. I don’t know how you split it up anymore. But he was insisting on a Monday. He would have the kids Monday, I would have them Tuesday, he would have been Wednesday, and I would have Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, if that was my weekend. Otherwise, they go back. He was pushing for exactly 50/50 only if he got the Monday. I really did put my feet down, because my kids going back and forth between homes was the bigger issue for me than the amount of time, if you do the math, that that calculated out to, which I think he was all about as far as paying child support. It was more about the money. I definitely dug my heels in for that reason. Then he hired custody experts that we then had to interview with. So I’m putting this out there to all of you to know the amount of humility and shame, and like, I’m a good mom, but if my kid cries in the interview with the custody expert, am I going to lose custody? And his girlfriend is being interviewed? It becomes out of control. It becomes out of control. I’m not sure I would have necessarily changed what I did, but in the end, we agreed to dinner alternating the kids on Monday night so I wouldn’t have to pack a bag. That lasted two months, and then he started canceling the Monday dinners. That’s not the case for everybody. So that’s why I said this was my situation. But the amount of time and stress for me and my kids, three kids under eight being interviewed by strangers, and us being interviewed, it was an extremely upsetting situation to be put then. So if you can settle your parenting time, please do it. Because we were going to trial, and in the end, he settled on the day of trial. But all the money had been spent preparing for trial and all the experts, with the custody in particular. I’m just telling you that that’s the prettiest version I can give you. It was way uglier than that. So what are your settlement tips, honestly, to avoid this type of a thing, if you have the kids’ best interest in mind, and to talk somebody out of it’s not just about pennies on the dollar for paying for your child support for your kids? How do you work through that? How do you even start that?

Joseph: Well, in California, and I know a number of states, at least particularly on the west, anytime custody is an issue before the court, meaning either mom or dad filed a custody request or a modification request, here in California, specifically, we call it Family Court Services. But essentially, they call it mediation, which is kind of a joke. Both parents have to see a social worker. This social worker is essentially tasked with learning what’s the real situation or what’s really going on between these parents. Generally, in a two hour session, how far can a social worker get doing that? It’s questionable, but in some situations, I would say it works out quite well.

T.H.: It’s worth a shot.

Joseph: They’re required to do it here in California too. Ultimately, in most counties here in California, if the parents cannot agree on anything, sometimes they’ll settle certain aspects of custody. But if there’s not a single issue that’s agreed on, that social worker ultimately writes a recommendation to the courts. Now, from an evidentiary standpoint, that report is pure hearsay. But there’s an exception here in California that allows judges to read that. Now, judges don’t simply rubber stamp that recommendation, but it is very persuasive to the court. And ultimately, that helps people really narrow the issues down. So say, for example, if we’re talking about an absent parent and they come and say, I want equal time with my child. Now, say a father has not been involved in a child’s life for four years, or even quite frankly, beyond a year, there’s going to need to be a substantial reintegration period. So in cases that I have, where we deal with that, they’re not getting 50/50 right off the bat. That would be essentially a step up plan. Can they request a trial on that issue? Absolutely, but that’s not going to be for a very long period of time after at least it’s shown that there’s some consistency with regard to step ups. So if I look at the other end of that option, where if there’s a parent that’s fighting over a particular day and they just won’t back down, well, I guess in your situation particularly, T.H., what was his reason for that? Was there a specific reason that he wanted that day? Or was it just kind of?

T.H.: No. There’s never really a rational reason for many of the things that he fights for.

Jessica: He’s just a difficult guy.

T.H.: He’s extremely difficult. And he’s a numbers guy. So that’s how I know it all comes down to the numbers and how the formula works out. And so that involved another night. That was really it. I mean, we didn’t settle until I said this is what it’s going to have to be, on the day he wanted to settle. I had to write it in.

Joseph: So here’s something that I would have looked at, and this would have worked either for trial or for settlement, and I’ll say especially for trial. If it’s very clear, and it sounds like it probably was in your situation, that somebody’s just proposing custody and calculating numbers thinking I just want to make sure my child support isn’t low, well, is that parent actually available to do it? Is there a demonstrable track record that shows dad has been doing it for say, the past six months? And if there’s not, I can tell you a judge is highly disinclined to want to do that. Again, those are all tools for settlements as well. That if this is not something that is even feasible, it’s not going to happen.

T.H.: Right, so really just–I mean, unfortunately, you need both people to be rational and you need both lawyers to communicate properly on your behalf. When you all are out looking for your lawyer, make sure you have someone who is approachable. Mine was not approachable. She was a bulldog. But Jessica had a meeting with Daren’s first lawyer and walked out of there in tears and said–what did you say?

Jessica: I just was like I’m not meeting with you and the lawyers anymore. We had one meeting with the four of us, me and my lawyer, and he and his lawyer, and I was like, why would you have even hired a lawyer like that? I’m not engaging in that. I’m not having any more conversations and any more involvement with that. We really did work our settlement out ourselves over many days, many hours, just at the kitchen table. Then I would call my lawyer and tell her what we had agreed on, and she would add it in. It ended up being a very amicable divorce settlement. But I had hired someone who specifically was gentle natured and more soft-spoken, because that was the kind of divorce that I wanted to have. Then we have this meeting and he hires this woman who was like a complete tiger. And I was like, whoa, is that the kind of divorce you want to have? Because I didn’t really want to play that game, but I will if I have to.

Joseph: You know what’s funny is just like the word bulldog and lawyers, it’s funny because when you have somebody that is either a bulldog, tiger, whatever the word we’re using, blind rage will not get the clients what he or she wants or needs. So can I be absolutely tough in court? Oh, yeah. But is that same mentality something that should be brought to a meeting to try to settle a case? Absolutely not – you’re only pouring gasoline on fire.

T.H.: That’s exactly right.

Joseph: When you go on to a settlement meeting, of course, you absolutely must advocate for the client’s interests. But you better at least play nice and have civility when working with the other side. Otherwise, it’s not going to go anywhere.

T.H.: So that is a top tip. When you’re hiring your lawyer, ask these questions: can you be tough in court? Can we be amicable at the table? These are the things I want, so make sure you write that down and you voice it, because that lawyer works for you. You’re paying your hard earned money and your future funds to make sure you’re represented in the way that you want. So that’s a really important tip for someone.

Joseph: Your lawyer better wear many hats and be very adaptable, because your lawyer needs to, like I said, be able to develop a good working relationship with the other side, be civil, be able to play nice. But again, at the same time, if we’re at a point where there’s no possibility of settlement, all right, we’re going to have to put on the no BS hard hat, go into court, and play hard. We’re playing ball now.

Jessica: Right. But it is such an important thing to be able to know in the original conversations with your lawyer, like asking the right questions and having that conversation, so that you can walk out feeling comfortable that they’re going to advocate for you the way that you need to, but also in the tone that you need them to.

Joseph: Absolutely. I think people will look at attorneys often. There’s a number of ways people approach divorce attorneys in the early stages. I would say a lot of people, of course, price shop. A lot of people will assume experience and strength based on years and practice. A lot of people don’t do their due diligence when they hire an attorney out the bat. Many of my clients, I’m their second attorney on the case. I’ve been able to turn around cases in a matter of months, simply because they had an attorney that may have been completely non responsive to the other side or just didn’t do anything, didn’t communicate, didn’t even make attempts of settling. I have one case in particular that comes to mind that’s two years old. There are just endless amounts of communication on the file where the other attorney had been reaching out to my client’s previous attorney asking, hey, can we get the house on the market? Can we meet to try to discuss resolving these issues? My client’s previous attorney did not respond to a single thing.

Jessica: That’s really unfortunate.

Joseph: Yeah.

Jessica: I feel I hear a lot of stories of people, more on the women’s side, because that’s a lot of what we deal with, who have attorneys where they feel their attorneys aren’t really listening to them and aren’t reaching out and going about things the way that the client would want them to be. But they’re also not getting an explanation from the lawyer as to why the lawyer isn’t doing that. I’ve told friends of mine there could be a very reasonable explanation for why your lawyer is not asking for X, Y, or Z from the other side, but you at least need to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. Hearing that they’re not even responsive to the other side is so incredibly frustrating. I feel those attorneys often probably aren’t responsive to their clients either. And the clients don’t know what’s going on.

Joseph: What boggled my mind when I was a baby attorney is how poor of–attorneys, your job really is to advocate and talk, and how poor of communicators 90% of attorneys out there are. That goes to explaining things to their clients and to arguing in court. Especially with many of my clients where I am their second attorney, they’ll say, oh, I didn’t know that. These are very, very simple things, and like I said, it shocks me where, oh, your previous attorney didn’t explain these simple things to you? Or there are situations where you say a client wants something, and obviously, my objective is to get my clients what they want. But if what they want cannot be had by the realms of the law, it’s up to me to explain it to them and say, okay, well, I understand you want that, but here are the laws that apply to your situation, which will say, you can’t have that. So can we fight about it? Yes. Will you win it or get it? No.

Jessica: Right. It’s I’m sure incredibly frustrating on your end. But keep going, because these are really great useful tips that people need to be knowing about as they go through their process. What else do you got for us?

Joseph: What else do I have? I always say it’s best to put out the first settlement offer too.

Jessica: Tell me why.

Joseph: There’s a ton of reasons why. Number one, you have essentially the first step of control towards settlements. I think that is incredibly powerful. Because a lot of times people will say, oh, I want to see what their low point is. And does that help? Maybe, maybe not, but at the same time, you have control of that first offer. So if you want to lowball, which I always say absolutely lowball, but tailor it in a way at the same time after I’ve gone to the other side to figure out well, what are a couple of high points that will make them think that they won? A lot of times I’ll get a response that’s fairly in line with what I want, or gives my client a lot of something that was very important to them as well.

Jessica: That’s so interesting. I feel like my second husband, who was a corporate attorney, his whole MO, and granted he’s not a divorce attorney, but he would sit in these meetings and there might be 20 lawyers around the table all negotiating these giant deals, and he would always be like the one at the end. Everybody would go around, and then he would come in at the end with what was going to happen. I know that there are a lot of people that feel like you’re in much more of a position of power to sit back and wait and see what they put out there, and then you go in with like, no, that’s not going to happen, or this is how it’s going to happen instead. So I am surprised to hear you say that it’s a position of power to put the offer in.

Joseph: So, you know what happens too in divorces when nobody takes the first step? Nothing happens.

Jessica: Right.

T.H.: No, it’s right. You just start going down the rabbit hole.

Joseph: And then that’s when we have these cases where okay, well, four years have passed. We have a horribly broken court system as well. Mind you, California, among the worst.

T.H.: I’m sure New York and New Jersey are right up there.

Joseph: Yeah, but a broken court system that, quite frankly, doesn’t care how fast your case moves. Then when we have these clients who are saying, why isn’t my case done? Well, because nobody’s even taken the first step towards settlement. So even though everybody wants to wait around to see the other side, you put yourself out there first. You start the dialogue, and it’ll happen. There’s a good chance they’ll go your way as well.

T.H.: I think that’s brilliant. If I had just done that, at least you’re making the first move in the game. You’re setting the benchmark for conversation. Like, these are the things we’re going to talk about. We were scattered all over the place – the house, custody, money, a new job he’s got, me – no job, me – new job, like, you don’t know where you’re going. If you can have someone who can just give you a first step forward, I think that could have been a game changer for me, honestly, if we had done that sooner.

Joseph: Yeah and here’s what will often happen too is that there’s a good chance we can settle at least a handful of issues in your divorce. So say we’re negotiating and okay, we come to terms on spousal support, for example, and child support. Well, let’s enter a written agreement on that, file that with the court, and now the only issue left is a child custody schedule and how we want to divide the house, or if that needs to be a litigated issue. So we’ve already narrowed it down. Then the issues that might even be set for trial already are substantially less. Clients have less legal fees because we’re fighting about less, if that has to go to trial as well.

T.H.: But you also have that whole time while you’re getting a divorce. You’re still co-parenting while you’re getting a divorce. You’re still potentially living in two homes during that whole separation period. During this whole business of getting a divorce, you have to figure out the parenting, and the holidays, and how much money you’re getting, and what activities the kids are doing, who’s living in the house, who’s moving out of the house. Decisions are being made. You’re not still living in the house in all situations Kumbaya until the papers are signed, or a judge hears you. You are negotiating from the very beginning. So you may as well put out a settlement.

Joseph: Absolutely.

T.H.: I mean, I just think that’s brilliant. I can’t even believe that didn’t happen for me. I mean, there’s so many things that we did wrong.

Jessica: All right, but look at where you are now.

T.H.: But look, now all of you out there–

Jessica: Right, are learning.

T.H.: You make the first move. You be the big guy, or big girl, or whatever you want to be.

Jessica: Right, because even if they’re saying no to the terms that you’re putting out there, at least you have a bar for the negotiation.

T.H.: You’re starting a conversation.

Joseph: Yeah, you’re starting that dialogue. Even though they might tell you to piss off, they’re always going to counter with something too.

T.H.: Of course.

Joseph: And then we learn their position. Almost always, there’s at least something, okay, well, we can agree. We’ve settled that. And then clients get a big sigh of–even if it’s a small battle, okay, well, there’s progress.

Jessica: It feels productive.

Joseph: And then okay, well, maybe we’re not too far apart on this, like you said, the passage of time. So say, for example, a co-parenting issue where the parents have very differing views on an aspect of their custody schedule, well, as the months unfold after that, okay, well, is this really working? How are the kids responding to this? Are the parents improving, quite frankly, in their co-parenting relationship? A lot of divorces do improve over time.

T.H.: Totally.

Joseph: It is normal for people to be very emotional in the early stages. But most divorces, people calm down over time. There are rare exceptions.

T.H.: No, but the interesting thing, now that this is all coming out, during our separation of four years until the divorce was final, the kids – it was Wednesday and every other weekend. Then you’re setting a precedent that Wednesday and every other weekend for the last four years has worked perfectly fine. So why are you spending this money on custody experts so that you can get one more overnight, which is disruptive to the kids and doesn’t make any sense? It’s not what we’re even doing. And this works. So you have to be careful, because what you’re doing during the waiting period is ultimately setting a precedent for what a judge could decide in the end, right, Joseph?

Joseph: Absolutely.

T.H.: If you’re doing this for four years, why is the judge going to switch it if it works?

Joseph: Because the judges don’t care about what either parents wants. The judge looks to the custody schedule to see is this in the children’s best interests.

T.H.: Right. So if you’re already doing it, won’t a judge be like: you guys are doing just fine. Just stick with this. Thank you, have a nice day.

Joseph: So if the children, again, are getting are flourishing under their custody schedule, even if one parent doesn’t like it, the judge is going to be more concerned for that. And at least here in California, once the kids get to a certain age too, they’re able to express their preference, which is why it’s a waste of time to fight over custody of a teenager. Unless what the child wants is somehow detrimental to them, that child’s preferences are going to be very well known to the court, and the court is going to place tremendous consideration on that.

Jessica: I would also think that if you are the first one to broach the conversation with some kind of a settlement and terms, if you make small progress, like you said, even if you only agree on one or two fairly minor things, I would feel that would breed some goodwill on both sides, like, okay, we’ve agreed to this. I don’t know, I guess maybe I’m wrong, but I would feel like okay–

T.H.: It depends on what you agree to.

Jessica: Yeah, I guess.

Joseph: Settlement always involves compromise on both sides. It’s one of those conversations I have to have anytime a client isn’t willing to concede on anything is all right, well, if they’ve given up these things, let’s take a step toward them as well. I’m not saying give up everything you want, but knowing what they want, and factoring in, well, this really isn’t that important to me, or will my child do better if they spend just a little more time? And like I said, oftentimes it boils down to a couple hours. So I’ll give an example. One case that we’re fighting about, my client just refused to compromise on the exchange times, which was extremely inconvenient to my client, but she wanted that 90 minutes. This was picking up the child from school, bringing the child home, and then dad not being able to get parenting time until roughly 4:30 pm. Now wouldn’t it have been made my client’s life so much more easy had dad just been able to pick up the child from school? My client just could not see the light. After enough and the client eventually seeing that, it’s like, all right, well, is that 90 minutes of parenting time, which is actually quite inconvenient to you – having to leave work early, riding down, waiting in line, and not actually spending quality time with your child, your child is rushed during that as well knowing that okay, well, I’ve got to get here – this is not a productive use of time. Had dad simply gone and picked up the child from school, the child would have not had roughly 30, 45 minutes of back and forth. They could have used that time towards homework or extracurricular activities


T.H.: Or just chilling out after school, not stressing about their parents going back and forth.

Joseph: Yeah. And of course, the tension between the parents during that exchange also added distress and anxiety for the child.

T.H.: Totally.

Joseph: So it’s just something not worth fighting about. And in that situation, thank God, I was able to have that client finally see the light.

Jessica: People are very short sighted I think when it comes to a lot of this stuff. Do you have any last minute settlement tips that we haven’t reviewed at this point?

Joseph: I would say, and I guess we touched on it, but always go into settlement with an open mind. I think that a lot of people don’t. A lot of people, again, are just looking at this as a pure battle. Remember, this is your chance to really tailor a settlement on your terms. Because you lose all control once that decision is before a judge. A judge is solely charged with making decisions on the face of your finances, and of your children, your future, and your livelihood. So even though again, settlement involves compromise, but ultimately, you still have control of that as well. I think a lot of people lose sight. I’ll have clients that after a settlement they’ll say, why did I do that? Then a few days pass, and then they realize oh, yes, that really was for the best. That really did work out. Well, my life is so much better now. Since we did compromise that, we solved this, and now I don’t have this looming over my head with a trial date set 18 months away.

Jessica: Right.

T.H.: Great.

Jessica: Excellent, excellent advice. This was really productive and I think really insightful and helpful for anyone listening. Really great tips, so thank you so much, Joseph. We really appreciate it. You will find all of Joseph’s information on the exEXPERTS website. And you feel free to reach out to him. He is, as T.H. mentioned, based in San Diego, California. So if you are too, then it’s definitely worth going to check him out. I really appreciate your time, Joseph.

Joseph: And we help families all over Southern California as well.

T.H.: Awesome.

Jessica: Excellent to know.

Joseph: Absolutely I would be happy to help any of the listeners.

Jessica: Awesome.

T.H.: Thank you so much again,

Jessica: Thanks again.

Joseph: T.H. and Jessica, thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

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