If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, neither of you may want to go through a long and expensive courtroom process.

Obviously, you want a fair settlement. If you can agree on most matters, you may want to substitute negotiation for litigation, and there are certain points you should not forget to consider.

Health insurance plans

Health insurance plans are expensive. If you have children and are the custodial parent, you will need coverage. Ask that the amount of health insurance you require figure into the child support payment.

Retirement

Most retirement accounts divide equally in a divorce. However, you should think about Social Security. With the phased-in increase, you will not qualify for full benefits until you turn 67. If this is going to be a major income source, you should bring it up during the divorce negotiations.

The family home

If you are the custodial parent, you may want to keep the home you and your children love. It may be the most valuable asset when it comes to property division, but it is an illiquid asset. You will have to make mortgage payments, and there is also upkeep to consider. Give this some thought; it may make more sense for you to sell the house.

Cost of living

Again, if you are the custodial parent, remember that the daily needs of your children not only include food, shelter and clothing, but also extracurricular activities and the cost of gas for transporting them there. Think of all the daily “extras” when negotiating your settlement.

Looking ahead

With experienced legal guidance, negotiation will be a much smoother way for you to end your marriage than submitting to a traditional court process. Engaging in negotiation will help you minimize both time and expense while finding solutions to sticking points. Your ability to work with your soon-to-be-ex toward a satisfactory divorce settlement will also set the groundwork for respectful and effective future communications, an especially important consideration if you have children.