Working it out on your own

A kitchen table settlement means that you and your partner will do most of the work to reach the terms of your separation or divorce agreement. Once you have an outline ready, you will each retain independent legal counsel, and one of the lawyers will draft the legal agreement.

It’s best to engage legal counsel early in your process to make sure that you are both informed about settlement options. When couples seek legal counsel at the end of their process, things can fall apart because either of you might have wished you had made a different decision. If one or both of you change your minds on issues, it can lead to disappointment and unnecessary conflict.

Note that the court does not generally recognize or enforce agreements signed by individuals who have not received independent legal advice. You and your spouse can still reduce costs by doing most of the legwork of your settlement.

A kitchen table settlement can be the least costly for you and your spouse, but it requires a high level of communication and cooperation between the two of you. It’s not recommended if your relationship involves a high level of conflict or a power imbalance.