Four Tips to Keep in Mind When Negotiating in Divorce Mediation

Couple meeting with divorce mediatorNegotiating with a soon-to-be-ex can be enormously challenging. You could be facing decisions that will have a long-term impact on many aspects of your life. Add to this the fact that divorcing spouses often share history that includes rough emotional terrain, and the whole idea can start to feel like too much to handle. If you need motivation to persevere, remember that unless you and your spouse can resolve your differences amicably, you will eventually find yourselves in front of a judge—letting a stranger make decisions for you that will not necessarily be any better than the decisions you could reach on your own with a bit of concerted effort. Choosing divorce mediation to help you negotiate is usually a wise choice. Even with a mediator’s assistance, however, the process is not always easy. Here are a few tips to help ease the way:

  • Get All Your Ducks in a Row: Trying to negotiate without first having a good handle on your situation is a set-up for disaster. Even if you haven’t filed a complaint for divorce yet, make sure to collect and familiarize yourself with all the financial information and documents you would need if your case eventually ended up in court. It might feel counterintuitive, but this is actually the best preparation for staying out of court. At a minimum, you will need complete and accurate information about all assets or financial obligations belonging to one or both of you, information about current or potential income, including business or self-employment income, and a detailed budget for both current and anticipated expenses. If there are any critical documents that affect your situation, such as a premarital agreement, make sure that you are familiar with those as well. For more tips, see our previous post, “Preparing for Divorce Mediation in New Jersey.”
  • Gain Some Legal Knowledge: Consulting with an attorney early in a divorce case is usually a good option, but even if you aren’t quite ready to do this, there are many other sources of information on New Jersey family law. You can start with some of the free resources available from Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, LLC. Without an understanding of your rights and obligations under the law, it can be nearly impossible to formulate an effective negotiating strategy.
  • Cultivate a Spirit of Cooperation: If you and your spouse have diametrically opposed positions, don’t be afraid to be the first one to offer an olive branch. Even in the best of settlements, each party usually needs to give something up. It can be hard to look objectively at whether or not one person has already sacrificed more than the other. Looking at things from your spouse’s perspective can provide valuable insight. Different items sometimes have different value for one person than another. Rather than making assumptions that are based on your own ideas about value, listen carefully to whatever your spouse is saying. There could be something that is not particularly important to you but means a lot to your spouse.
  • Know Your True Bottom Line: When developing a bottom line, remember that the more important any single goal is, the more you may have to give up to achieve it. Try to focus on broad interests rather than black and white demands. For example, stating that you need a place to live that is decent, an adequate size, and in the right location expresses your legitimate interest in finding or maintaining appropriate housing. Stating that you will not consider living anywhere except in the condo you currently occupy, on the other hand, states a rigid black and white position. Black and white positions almost always have other potential solutions. Whenever you and your spouse seem to be at an impasse, explore the true interests at the bottom of your positions. This will often open the door to alternate possibilities and can go a long way toward maximizing positive results for everyone.

For an initial consultation, use our divorce mediation contact form or call (888) 888 1383