Gainesville Family Lawyer -- Leslie Smith Haswell, P.A.

Negotiating Tips for Your Divorce

Seven Tips for Negotiating Your Divorce Settlement

Regardless of how long you have been married, negotiating a settlement is the most important part of the divorce process. It's not easy, but working with your spouse to arrive at mutually agreed terms of your marital dissolution is easier on your wallet, your emotional well-being, and especially your children.  Whatever conditions caused the breakdown in the marriage are likely still present throughout the divorce negotiation, exacerbated by emotions such as anger and fear as you each transition into the next stage of your lives.

However, staying focused on what’s best for your future will serve you well as you navigate these tumultuous waters. Taking your divorce case to trial and letting the court decide what will become of your property or children is rarely in your best interest. Although you may not get everything you hoped for during a settlement negotiation, you will save a tremendous amount of money, time and emotional anguish.

Divorce settlement negotiations involve a degree of both skill and art, both of which can be attained by following a few simple tips. Even if your attorney is doing the negotiating on your behalf, it is important that you are clear regarding your priorities, so you can make decisions that are truly in your own best interest for the future life you are establishing post-divorce.
Negotiating a settlement agreement necessarily involves a certain amount of give and take, on both sides, so keep in mind that you most likely won’t get everything you want. But following the tips below can help ensure you get what’s most important to you.

  • Establish clear priorities.  What is your pie-in-the-sky outcome?  What can't you live without?
  • Know what you can give up completely, where you can be flexible and those critical items where you are unable to budge.  
  • Be realistic about your options and the bigger picture, so you can be reasonable when you must “give” something in order to “take” something.
  • Stay focused on the negotiation itself, and your future; avoid recalling past resentments or re-opening past wounds.  You may think "revenge" will feel good, but don't let it get in the way of your long-term goals--and don't let it run up your bill!
  • If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse becomes emotional or subjects you to personal attacks, try not to take it personally. This is easier said than done, but it is important to stay focused on your priorities and realize that such “noise” does not get you any closer to a settlement agreement.
  • If you spouse presents you with a settlement offer, consider it carefully and discuss it with your attorney. It may not include everything you want, but it may be a fair trade-off in order to finalize your divorce and move on with your new life.
  • If you are negotiating your own settlement agreement, consult with an attorney before you make an offer to your spouse or sign any proposed agreement.  An agreement signed by both parties is a done deal.  Make sure it's a deal you understand and want.

By keeping the focus on your priorities, and avoiding the emotionally-charged aspects of your marriage, you can ensure you negotiate a divorce settlement agreement that you can live with.