Step 5

work TOWARD resolution


Regardless of which process you choose, negotiation will be involved.  Consider these strategies in order to have productive negotiations.

  1. Set Some Rules. A productive negotiation session has rules.  These rules can be anything you both agree is necessary and important. 
    • Certain topics can be off limits.
    • Allot each person a certain amount of time to talk uninterrupted.
    • You can set limits for discussion – maybe an hour or 30 minutes – however long you think the conversation can remain reasonable and largely free of emotion.
    • Agreements can be tentative until each person has had the opportunity to discuss it with their lawyer.  This can help lower the stakes and keep discussions going.
  2. Stay Positive (or at least neutral). If you can keep your negative emotions at bay, the negotiation will be more productive.  This can be difficult for some people.  It might be helpful to have these conversations in a therapist’s office so there is a third party who can help keep things on track.  If negotiations break down, hit the pause button and come back later.
  3. Be willing to compromise.  The easiest way to discover workable solutions is to brainstorm ideas.  There are a wide variety of “right” solutions to most problems presented by divorce or separation.  If you can make and entertain suggestions for alternative ways to resolve issues without becoming wedded to an idea or offended by a suggestion then finding a “middle way” is possible.  Reaching a compromise solution on one issue can pave the way for compromises on other issues.


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. 

  • Take a break from the process.  While there are consequences to waiting, including your ability to maintain your household financially and your well being, taking a break can help put things in perspective and make future negotiations or mediations more productive.
  • Change your team.  Change can cost you a little more time and money because you will need to get someone new up to speed. But if you are having a personality conflict with your lawyer or other professional or if you do not feel like they are moving you along in the process, it may be time to make a change.
  • Inform your spouse of your next steps and timetable.  If your spouse has stopped engaging in the process or is not cooperating this might be the time to stop voluntary payments, hire an lawyer, or go to court.  What is most important is that you communicate your expectations with your spouse about what you need to get things back on track and what you plan to do if your expectations are not met.   
  • Hire an arbitrator.  Ask your spouse to agree to hire an arbitrator, often a retired judge, to decide any outstanding issues.  Arbitrator’s decisions are binding but arbitration can be faster and less expensive than going to court.  The idea of losing control of the outcome may also motivate your spouse to take negotiations more seriously.     
  • Go to court. You likely will not be happy to hear this, but if you are convinced that no other resolution of your case is possible then it may be time to file a contested divorce.  This does not mean that you will end up in court.  Remember that over 90% of contested divorces settle before the case goes to trial.  But you may benefit from the deadlines imposed by the court.  One way or another the court system will grant you a divorce.

6 Steps to A Modern Divorce

Ready to move on to the next step? Need to go back?

Build your team

Surround yourself with professionals, friends and family who support your approach to divorce.

Build your team

Mediator • Lawyer • Financial Advisor • Counselor • Trusted Family and Friends

Finalize your divorce

The final step is filing your paperwork with the court. See if our step-by-step forms will work for you.

Finalize your divorce

The final step is filing your paperwork with the court. See if our step-by-step forms will work for you.

Need legal help?

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.