When two people divorce, it is not unusual for one of them to have certain advantages. This person might know more about the finances or possess business-savvy skills that makes them more comfortable in certain settings, like mediation.
If this sounds like your spouse and you are nervous about leveling the playing field during your divorce (especially the property division aspect), one way you can do this is to improve your negotiation skills. Below, we offer some suggestions for what you can do to feel more comfortable when it comes time to negotiate.
- Get your facts straight. Collect financial documentation, speak with a forensic accountant, and make every effort to familiarize yourself with the assets and debts at stake. With this information, you can be more confident in settlement discussions. Knowledge really is power.
- Listen to the other person. Listening is a critical negotiation skill. Not only does it allow you to get some insight to the other person’s perspective, it also conveys that you are calm, mature, and respectful. These are valuable traits.
- Be ready with an offer. Making the first offer in settlement discussions can lead to a better result, according to studies and articles like this one from Forbes. While a first offer might seem ridiculous or impossible, it can serve as a starting point or anchor.
- Know what you want. Before meeting to discuss property division, prepare by deciding in advance what matters, and what does not. You don’t want to fight over everything “on principle” – just to show your spouse that he or she isn’t the boss.
- Stay focused. Divorce is difficult and often painful. But emotions are poison to any effort at mediation. They get in the way. People make bad decisions when they’re emotional. Maintain your composure and don’t let the other person push your buttons, even when you know it’s coming. If this gets too difficult, take a break or have a conversation with your attorney.
Some people struggle with bargaining anyway, simply because it is not their strong suit. Bargaining in family court is even harder because of all the extra baggage. However, working on your negotiation skills and having the support of an attorney experienced in conflict resolution can help you achieve a positive outcome.