Regardless of which process you choose, negotiation will be involved. Consider these strategies in order to have productive negotiations.
Couples intuitively know what the main issues are in their divorce. All of the issues in divorce go to the heart of family finances and relationships. As a result, Georgia law is relatively straightforward because it responds to and addresses the realities of changes resulting from divorce and separation which are common across all divorces.
If you and your spouse have worked through Steps 1 and 2 then you have done the work necessary to get a handle on your financial situation and identify the issues you will need to address in order to have a complete divorce settlement.
If you have been working through these steps on your own then you know what issues will need to be addressed as you work toward a divorce regardless of what process you use – negotiation, mediation or litigation.
Perhaps as you have worked through Steps 1 and 2 you have naturally reached agreement on some issues and not others. For instance, you may have worked out a parenting plan without much difficulty but have not agreed on how to deal with the marital home.
This is a good place to acknowledge that negotiating the end of your marriage likely will not be easy. For some people this process is an emotional roller coaster and others seem emotionally detached from the process. Many people – family members, friends, lawyers – will caution you against negotiating your own divorce or separation agreement. Some will tell you not even to speak to your spouse about anything related to your split. People closest to you fear you will agree to something crazy or be duped by an unscrupulous spouse. Lawyers, even those who do not practice divorce law, will tell you that it is always best to let a lawyer negotiate on your behalf.
You should not ignore these calls for caution, but if you have worked through Step 3 then you know that there are options for resolving areas of disagreement which can preserve channels of communication (lawyer-assisted negotiation and mediation) and save time and money. You know you do not have to react out of fear because you know your options.
Finally, from a practical standpoint, handing your divorce over to lawyers is too expensive an option for many families. For other families it is simply not how they want to spend the money they have earned, saved, invested and plan to use in the future. Staying actively involved in your divorce or separation negations is both possible and prudent for most couples.
If you have worked through Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4, then along the way you have probably identified what you want out of your divorce or separation and what you need out of your divorce or separation.
It is very likely that if what you want and what you need are pretty reasonable then an agreement that leaves you somewhere in between those two is going to be fair. Likewise, each spouse should try to think clearly about what the other spouse might need and want. Ultimately, any agreement is going to be a balance between both spouses’ needs and wants.
It is very helpful in a negotiation to look at issues from the other side’s perspective. If your divorce involves minor children, it is also important to look at the agreement from the child’s perspective. Depending on their age, they may have opinions and a fair resolution is something you can discuss honestly with your children.
They say it takes two to tango, and this is certainly true in a divorce negotiation. Negotiation in good faith is critical to success. If either spouse has extreme or unrealistic expectations or positions, then coming to an agreement is going to be difficult. If your lawyer is telling you that your position is unrealistic then you can bet it is – most lawyers do not want to represent a client with wildly unrealistic expectations and lose in court. But every lawyer will expect to get paid – win or lose.
In a situation where one person is being clearly unreasonable or totally inflexible, the other spouse must know what their bottom line is and be able to walk away from a negotiation. Sometimes walking away is all it takes to let the other person know you are serious about your limits and get negotiations back on track. Sometimes walking away means that negotiation is not going to be successful and having a judge resolve everything is the way forward.
Your divorce will almost certainly consist of more than one negotiation or mediation. It is often hard to keep track of what agreements have been made and what still needs to be decided. You can minimize confusion and conflict by taking notes as you go including tentative agreements, questions to be asked, and to do lists. Reviewing your notes before meeting with your team can help you focus and be better prepared for more productive sessions.
It happens. Maybe your spouse stops cooperating or you start to feel like the professional you have chosen is not the right fit for your situation. So what can you do? If you or your spouse have gotten off track, review your options and decide on a course of action that works for you.
We’ve got you covered. Visit A Modern Divorce by Taylor & Weber LLC for options to help you mediate issues, draft a parenting plan or settlement agreement, file your documents with the court, or simply provide legal advice.