Tips on Negotiating a Divorce Settlement
The outcome of your divorce may have a significant impact on the rest of your life. Assets, including homes, retirement accounts, businesses, and other types of property are divided. Alimony and child support are addressed, which will affect your cash flow moving forward. Learning how to navigate divorce negotiations will put you well on your way to a favorable settlement.
The best place to start is to educate yourself on divorce. Gaining knowledge in advance will put you in a better position to ask your attorney the right questions and participate meaningfully in the crafting of a plan and set goals.
There are many factors that affect divorce negotiations. However, the best you can do is to focus on what you can control. Here are some tips to putting and keeping your divorce negotiations on the right track:
1. Control your emotions. Divorce can be difficult when you’re dealing with issues such as infidelity, domestic violence, financial misconduct, parenting disputes, and other difficult circumstances. But when your emotions are ruling over reason, you’re hurting your case. Is it cathartic to tell your soon-to-be ex to f#*% off? Sure. But is it worth the extra $10,000 you may have to spend on your case because you unnecessarily made waves? Ensure that you’re in the right frame of mind for negotiations. It’s not personal, it’s about getting the best result for yourself, and your children if you have any. And emotional lability rarely carries you efficiently to the best result.
2. Set clear and reasonable goals with your attorney at the outset. Establishing what you want and determining what’s attainable at the very beginning helps create realistic expectations, which creates a solid foundation for negotiations.
3. Be flexible. There’s a fine line between being aggressive in pursuing an attainable, reasonable result, and handling negotiations irrationally and putting yourself in a hole. Your attorney should be engaging you in a constant cost-benefit analysis as you navigate through your case: what’s the issue in dispute, what are your odds of prevailing, and what will it cost you? Incorporating this approach will help you focus on what’s important and decrease the risk that you’ll waste time and money and lose credibility with the judge.
4. Keep the children’s best interests at the top of the priority list. Some cases necessarily turn heavily contested because a parent is fighting for a legitimate goal. But sometimes parents fight over insignificant issues and unfortunately hurt their children the process. Keep in mind that contested cases tend to cause more friction, which negatively impacts the parental relationship, which has the potential to harm the child. Again, all-out war is sometimes necessary. But if you’ll be co-parenting children going forward, you must weigh the potential benefits of litigation with the harm it may cause to your parental relationship, and how that may impact your child.
5. Don’t commit to anything significant without first discussing it with your attorney. During negotiations, it’s natural on your own time and in your private discussions with your spouse to make suggestions for resolving the case. And that’s ok. But you may want to consider running it by your attorney first. You may not appreciate the significance of certain decisions and how they may impact the case. And if you tell the other party they can have something and you then change your mind and take it away, it tends to make future negotiation more difficult. So be careful what you offer before discussing with your attorney.
It’s important to set realistic goals and push for the best result possible while simultaneously factoring into your decisions the costs both financially and in your relationship with the other parent.