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Negotiation tips for your divorce

Divorce often centers around control and power. Two people feel like they both want to “win” the divorce, and it makes negotiating difficult. While the court does make some decisions for you in certain situations — such as how to divide child custody — you have a lot of details to work out together.

Both men and women make critical negotiating errors. Much of the time, women have a tendency to hold nothing back, laying all of their cards on the table. This makes negotiating difficult because they have nothing left during the conversation. Men, on the other hand, tend to be far too withdrawn and callous about the whole thing. They don’t want to compromise and so they can miss out on excellent opportunities.

Naturally, these tropes do not apply to all men or all women, but they show how you can make errors while negotiating, no matter what your gender is or how you feel about the divorce. To help you get more out of it, here are a few tips:

  1. Try to look at the other person’s point of view. Do not get so bogged down in your own opinion and perspective that you cannot see theirs. If you can understand what they want and what they’ll do to get it, you can negotiate with them effectively.
  2. Always start off by doing your homework. For instance, if you’re not sure exactly what financial assets you control — down to the cent — then you need to get that paperwork. If you don’t know the value of a life insurance policy or a retirement account, you need to find out. The more you know, the better you can defend your position.
  3. Figure out what your main goals are before you start. Do you want to be as well off as possible financially? Do you want more time with the kids? Do you want to keep the family home? Knowing what your goal is shows you how to work to get there.
  4. Try to keep emotions out of the negotiation. Stay calm. Think of it like a business transaction, even with things that are very emotional for you.
  5. Be open to solutions that are unique and creative. Think outside of the box. When you and your spouse can’t agree, ask yourself if you are truly looking at all of the options or if there is still another way for you to both get what you want.

These tips can help, but it is also very important to know what legal options you have, what your rights are and what steps you need to take to work through the process.