Perhaps, in your youth, you were known as a skilled negotiator. Whether it was bartering for the last slice of pizza or convincing your friends where to hang out in your Texas town on a Friday night, maybe you had a special knack for getting your way. On the other hand, you might have been the one who always gave in because you’d rather keep the peace than try to sway people in your favor. Fast forward to adult life and preparing for divorce.
The good news is that it’s often possible to settle a divorce without ever going to court. However, when you choose mediation over litigation, you should understand from the get-go that there will be a good bit of negotiation involved. Brushing up on such skills ahead of time will help you accomplish your goals.
Be as prepared as possible
The last thing you’d want to do when using mediation to settle a divorce is to walk into a negotiation session completely unprepared. It’s best to think ahead and plan ahead. You might want to make a list of issues you wish to discuss, as well as what you see as top priorities, and also what your needs and ultimate goals for settlement are at the time.
During mediation, it’s helpful to have a facilitator who helps you and your former partner stay on track. While every case is unique, a main goal of mediation is to avoid confrontation, which requires amicable discussion and willingness to compromise.
Understanding must work both ways
A key skill for successful negotiation is the ability to understand as well as for others to understand you. It’s critical that you choose your words carefully and that you make sure the other party clearly understands what you are requesting or trying to say.
It’s equally important that you understand what your ex is conveying during negotiation sessions. This is why it’s helpful to have an experienced advocate by your side who can review the proposed terms of an agreement and seek clarification for any statements that are vague or ambiguous.
It’s supposed to be a win-win situation
When a couple divorces through litigation, one party is often trying to win the court’s favor over the other. One of the benefits of divorce mediation is that no one has to lose. You and your former spouse agree ahead of time to keep discussing any issue you disagree on until you can find common ground and achieve a fair and agreeable solution.
Especially if you are co-parents, you’ll want to keep your children’s best interests in mind during all mediation sessions. One of your main goals would undoubtedly be to achieve a settlement that helps your children cope with the changes in their lives in as healthy and productive a manner as possible.