Divorce cases can take 2 paths – one can go down the path of most resistance which means going to trial and fighting about everything, and the other is the path of negotiations, give-and-take and potential settlement. It’s usually in everyone’s best interest to take that second path towards reaching a final agreement and ending the divorce without a lengthy and expensive trial. But, don’t just travel down that path without preparing yourself to make the most of it. Here are some tips on how to negotiate you case to get a final agreement:
Tip 1 – Make Sure You Know All of the Facts
It’s not possible to effectively negotiate a divorce settlement if you don’t know all of the facts involved. You attorney is also not able to guide you through the process with the best legal advice without knowing all about your income, assets, debts, and property involved. Being aware of the full financial picture in your case, allows you and your attorney to negotiate with everything on the table while being knowledgeable about the financial situation. You and your spouse should complete at least some exchange of basic discovery and your financial affidavits. More in-depth discovery might be needed depending on the complexity of the case, so be sure to ask your attorney about this. The only way to ensure an equitable and fair division of assets is to negotiate when both spouses are fully informed of the facts.
Tip 2 – Leave Your Emotions Out of Settlement Negotiations
For many, dealing with the emotional aspect of a divorce is the hardest part of the process. Be sure that before you really get into negotiating your case, you have taken the steps necessary to deal with any emotions you have about the process and about your spouse. This may mean going to therapy, or just taking some time yourself, away from the negotiation table, to deal with your emotions. Letting your emotions control you results in bad decisions, ignoring the legal advice of your attorney, and possibly letting the other side see what bothers you. You can’t get rid of all of your emotions but knowing how to control them when they surface to be able to make logical decisions about your case, will make all the difference in the world. Plus, letting emotions get in the way sometimes results in the whole settlement process breaking down, which is not ideal.
Tip 3 – Be Willing to Compromise
It’s very rare that you will get 100% of what you want out of settlement negotiations with your spouse. You must be ready to compromise on certain issues if you want to settle the case amicably without going to trial. However, you should also know where your bottom line is on those issues. Talk to your experienced family law attorney before negotiations or before the settlement conference so they are aware of what the bottom line is and what you are willing to compromise on when the time comes. Also, you know your spouse and what is important to them in this case, and they likely know the same for you. Both of you having this knowledge can help settlement when making trade-offs on certain items or issues can further both of your interests
Tip 4 – Focus on Interests and Not Positions
Spouses going through settlement negotiations may think they have their emotions in check, until a certain topic or issue is the focus of the discussion. You may be doing your best to deal with those emotions, but sometimes they can resurface when triggered. But, in order to work towards an equitable settlement, you have to focus on the issues, and not focus on the person sitting opposite you at the table. Don’t focus on making sure the other spouse does not get what they want because of emotions clouding your thinking, instead try to focus on how you can turn what they want into getting something you want in return. Of course, this is easier said than done, but mentally preparing yourself for this potential situation beforehand can be helpful.
Tip 5 – Be Careful Not to Destroy the Relationship With Your Spouse
If you and your spouse have made it to the negotiating table, that is a big win already. Now, don’t let a small disagreement with your spouse change that. One disagreement does not mean the end of negotiating, it just means you have to go about negotiating another way to get to the settlement. This can often happen if there are minor children involved as parenting issues involve many emotions, and those types of disagreements have a way of finding their way into the bigger picture of the financial negotiations. Stay focused on trying to reach an agreement, and don’t let other issues cloud your judgment in the big picture of settlement.
Having an experienced family law attorney from Anderson, Boback & Marshall by your side will ensure that the divorce settlement negotiating process goes smoothly and that you get the best outcome. Call us today to talk to our Chicago divorce attorneys about your case.