As divorce mediation grows in popularity among couples trying to save money, time, and the hassle of going to court as they end their marriages, it puts the focus on the kinds of skills needed for this type of divorce process to be successful.
In other words, how skilled are you at the art of negotiation?
No matter whether you are using the mediation process or in a more typical divorce litigation procedure, if you could use some help at the negotiating table, here are three secret tips on how to give-and-take your way to divorce terms you can live with:
Find out what your spouse wants. Before making your desired outcomes for the divorce known, take the time to listen to your spouse and find out what he or she really wants. This tactic helps with negotiating for two reasons. First, when people feel listened to and get the sense that their views are being taken seriously, it goes a long way to lowering the tension in the room; listening to your spouse’s needs means your spouse will probably be more willing to listen to your own. Secondly, understanding what your spouse wants can help you identify some possible bargaining chips. If she wants the vacation home, but you want a greater percentage of the stock portfolio and secretly don’t care about having a second home, having this kind of information can be an easy to quickly negotiate an outcome you both find acceptable.
Prioritize what you want. It might be nice to keep the living room furniture set you worked overtime to afford. But if comes down to digging in about the furniture versus paying your spouse a little less in monthly alimony because she gets her wish to keep most of the contents of the house — which one sounds better? As you prioritize, think about what’s best for your future finances, your family’s future, and what you are willing to give up in order to get a better life moving forward.
Check your ego (and emotions) at the door. The end of a marriage is almost never without emotional fallout. But know that bringing anger, frustration, and jealously into the negotiating room — and making decisions based on purely emotional reasons — is an almost surefire way to not get what you want in the long run (for more on this, please read Bari Weinberger’s Huffington Post article, Divorce: Take Time for Emotional Clarity in Decisions). Whether it takes seeing a therapist, buying a punching bag, meditating, or just watching funny movie and having a laugh with a friend, do everything you can to be in a more neutral frame of mind when you sit down at the negotiating table.
Your future will thank you that you did.