NEGOTIATING YOUR UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
|Successful negotiations require a good faith effort on the part of both individuals. Poorly negotiated divorces cost more -- emotionally, mentally, psychologically, financially and temporally. Bitter divorce negotiations can poison a process that might otherwise end civilly. Poorly negotiated divorces are the reason why lawyers joke that a divorce client is a client forever: the unresolved post divorce legal problems mean that the former spouses will be battling each other as far as the eye can see.|
Ideally both spouses should be at the same emotional place when negotiating the end of the marriage, particularly the division of assets and liabilities, custody and visitation and alimony -- items that can easily become heated. When both spouses accept that the marriage is over they have the potential to save money in legal fees it is time to move forward and get things done. Spouses who negotiate the end of their marriage without anger move on in better emotional and economic shape after the divorce is finalized.
Greed makes reasonable financial negotiation impossible because the give and take of bargaining, soon becomes a zero-sum game. So often angry spouses mask their greed with notions of entitlement as well as irrational expectations that lead to higher court costs and legal bills.
Lust for power or control is often a negotiation killer. Spouses who need to control will manipulate the negotiation process with stall tactics and unrealistic expectations or wants.
Pride causes impasse with negotiations in divorce. Pride sometimes causes people to take untenable positions in their negotiations.
Sometimes divorcing spouses turn to gluttony -- the over-indulgence to the point of extravagance or waste to harm the other spouse with irresponsible spending and social behaviors.
Fear undermines good negotiation: fear of rejection; loss of position, property, and community standing; fears of loneliness and starting anew, of economic impoverishment, of the future that looks dark.
The seven deadly sins became feedbacks that reinforced bad outcomes, but couples can easily sidestep this.
Spouses striving for an uncontested divorce -- one where the parties agree on everything -- should begin by trying to negotiate their own divorce.
When a divorcing couple is on speaking terms, they can communicate with one another and reach agreement about the terms and conditions of the settlement. This is almost always an ideal situation. Personal negotiation between the spouses is the least expensive way of reaching an agreement because the involvement of lawyers is minimal, if at all. Personal negotiation may be joined with negotiation through a lawyer, which happens when the couple stalls and they turn the action over to respective lawyers, who in turn negotiate with each other in a back-and-forth manner aimed at a settlement.
Personal negotiation between the spouses is a process that may produce feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty as well as a struggle to maintain control. Financial issues come to light when one spouse wants to keep his or her money hidden from the other spouse. Negotiation between the couple demands that both parties understand that anything and everything is negotiable. Bargaining demands that each spouse decides the least and the most that he or she will give or give up, and the bottom line of agreement.
One obvious advantage of direct negotiation is cost. The more the spouses do for themselves, the less there is for the lawyers to do. Sometimes divorcing spouses who are reluctant to negotiate with an alienated partner forget that they will negotiate the little things anyway, even when a lawyer negotiates all the major issues -- the terms and conditions of the division of assets and liabilities, for example.
Divorcing couples tend to forget liabilities. The ownership of credit card debt and the mortgage on the house must also be negotiated.
When couples hit a roadblock, the lawyers provide guidance about how a similar situation has been previously handled in the courts to help steer them down a path to reality.
The bargaining table is only used to resolve undecided issues. When couples agree on an issue, that topic is closed. Agreements rarely come together when parties rehash what they supposedly settled and in fact, they're more likely to fall apart. Raising new issues late in the game cast doubt on the good faith of what was previously settled. If at any time a spouse is not sure of what his or her rights are according to the law, perhaps it is best to consult a lawyer. Spouses of a high-stake divorce, one with a large marital estate should almost always seek the advice of a lawyer because the financial ramifications of an unbalanced settlement can be financially and emotionally devastating.