Negotiations

If you try to work something out with your spouse, the following are some useful pointers to remember:

Meet on neutral ground—Not at his office or at her mother’s home, but some place where both parties will feel comfortable.

Put aside time—A reasonable amount of time should be set aside to deal with the issues. If you leave to answer a telephone call just as you almost have things worked out, you may find that things have fallen apart when you get back. On the other hand, do not leave the meeting time open-ended. A meeting without a deadline will drag on and issues will not get resolved.

Set an agenda—Decide what will be dealt with at the meeting. “This week we will decide on custody and child support, next week we will decide on the house.”

Do not bog down—Try to talk about what you agree on. No matter how bad it is, there are some things you agree on (“the marriage stinks” or “the kid is cute”). If you hit a point that gives you trouble, move on to something else and come back to the problem after you have resolved some other issues.

Reschedule as needed—If things start to turn nasty, if someone gets angry, or if you think you are losing everything, reschedule the meeting for another time. It is important that both of you feel that the agreement is a good thing.

Keep the kids out of it—Your children do not need to be involved in this. Do not have them around. They will interrupt you, and it will upset them.

Start talking early—Divorces usually settle early on when both parties feel guilty and are not locked into a position, or divorces settle after much litigation when the parties are too exhausted to fight anymore. Sometimes you can get more with guilt than you can get at a trial.

If you and your spouse work out something and you make notes, do not sign the notes. This could be considered to be an agreement. If it is not in the correct legal language, you may be bound by something other than what you thought you agreed to.

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