Once you and your spouse have decided that divorce is inevitable, it is time to negotiate your divorce settlement and come to an agreement about how things will be handled after the divorce is finalized. If you and your spouse can effectively communicate and cooperate, you may find that you can handle most of the negotiation process without the assistance of an attorney or mediator. Since anger and other emotions typically run high during the divorce process, however, many individuals find that negotiating the settlement without assistance can be a difficult and tricky task.
Following a few simple tips can make your journey to an acceptable divorce settlement much less rocky, whether you choose to work with an attorney or mediator, or you decide to try negotiation on your own.
- Don’t remain in the dark about finances: Not having in depth knowledge about your income, assets and liabilities can give your spouse an unfair advantage during the negotiation process. Get as much information as you can and make copies of financial records. Be sure to remember things like checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, credit card statements and even tax returns.
- Leave your emotions at the door: During the negotiation process it is essential that both spouses remember that negotiations are about the legal side of ending the marriage and have nothing to do with hurt feelings or animosity.
- Compromise: Chances are, you won’t get everything you want exactly as you want it when the negotiations are over. If your spouse requests something that seems unreasonable, be prepared to make alternative offers that might be acceptable for both parties.
- Be realistic about your situation: Do you really want that boat, motorcycle or vacation home, or do you just want to keep your spouse from having such things? Can you really afford to maintain them anyway?
- Get prepared: Make a list of the items that you wish to negotiate and take adequate time to discuss each one. Taking things one at a time can avoid frustration and confusion, and can significantly improve your chances of coming to an agreement. Once you have agreed on a specific item, sign off on it and move to the next. If you determine that an agreement is not foreseeable at that time, set it aside. You can always come back to it later.
- Get assistance if you need it: You might discover that there are issues that you simply cannot agree upon. Whether emotions are getting in the way of an agreement or you simply cannot seem to compromise, it is important to remember that there is no shame in seeking outside assistance. If you need help negotiating your divorce settlement agreement, consult with an experienced divorce attorney or a mediator who can help you get things in order.
How Can a Divorce Lawyer Help
If you and your spouse have come to the conclusion that you need outside assistance in order to resolve your differences during the negotiation process, a divorce lawyer who specializes in mediation can be a powerful solution.
- Mediators are neutral. They will not take sides and will instead work with both parties in order to establish a better understanding of each side of the conflict.
- Mediators won’t make you rehash things that you have already agreed upon. They will focus on the issues that you have been unable to resolve.
- Mediators will listen to both sides of the issue at hand and help develop a list of pros and cons for each side so that each party can view the issue clearly.