Navigating a Divorce Settlement – Effective Strategies for Negotiation
Divorce can be an emotionally and financially difficult process and it can be downright overwhelming to make the decisions that affect your future and that of your family. Whist no one enters into a marriage expecting it to end, the fact is that around half of Australian wedded couples end up separating. If you are heading down the path to divorce, the right knowledge, planning, and support can help you navigate it successfully and provide a better divorce settlement and outcome for all parties involved.
Understand Your Financial Position
Before any negotiations begin, you must have a thorough of understanding of your current financial situation – that means knowing what you own and what you owe. Without this knowledge, you will automatically start off on the back foot. Don’t hesitate to hire a professional financial advisor to explain your finances to you, it will cost a fee to do this but it will be nothing compared to what you may end up losing in the long run.
Be Clear on Your Wants and Needs, and Understand Those of Your Spouse
When entering divorce negotiations, most people have a clear understanding of what they don’t want, but many aren’t clear on what they actually do want. Identify your wants and needs and rank them in order of importance. It’s rare that you will get everything you want, but if you know what is most important, you can at least try to negotiate so you get what you need. Negotiation requires compromise and cooperation so it’s crucial you also have some insight into the wants and needs of your spouse. This will enable you to negotiate in a manner that will satisfy both of you. The more you can create a situation where both of you feel like you have won something, the more likely you are to succeed in settling your case amicably.
Know Your Bottom Line
You have to know what you can and can’t live with before you start negotiating. If your spouse won’t settle on terms you can live with, then you have to be ready to walk away. This also means that you have to have the courage to reject proposals that fall short of what you want. Your bottom line should also be realistic, it’s difficult to negotiate a fair agreement with unrealistic expectations and you will be left disappointed and upset.
Keep Your Emotions Under Control
It’s only natural that you are feeling a wide range of emotions when going through a separation or divorce, but it’s imperative that you control your emotions throughout the process. Think of it as a “poker face.” Don’t let the other party see your emotional side because then they’ll learn what the trigger is for you. Losing control of your emotions can lead to a breakdown in divorce settlement negotiations that can lead to an increase in costs and time.
Are Kids Involved? Don’t Destroy the Relationship Completely
Where there is a child or children involved, preserving a strong relationship with the other side throughout the negotiations will almost always ensure a more beneficial result. Your soon-to-be ex-spouse will always be a parent to your child, and you will need to develop a parenting plan and co-parent with them in the future. Children typically respond better to situations where separating parents are amicable, so regardless of how you really feel, always try to do what’s best for them. And in most cases, what’s best is having both parents in their lives, and amicable for the most part.
Have a Clear Strategy and Plan
You need to have goals but more importantly, you need to have a plan to achieve those goals. Without a clear plan of action your chances of actually accomplishing what you want will be drastically reduced. Start by knowing what you want and then brainstorm different ways that you can get it before you start negotiating. Understand alternatives and know what you will and won’t accept. Don’t start negotiations at your bottom line, ask for more so that you have something to give up. The best negotiation is the one in which everyone feels like a winner or at least, feel they have won something that they wanted.
What to do When Your Spouse Refuses to Negotiate?
Your divorce solicitor may be able to persuade your spouse to enter into negotiations by making them aware of the ramifications of refusing to participate. Most parties are prepared to come to the negotiating table when they understand that refusal will significantly increase the cost, delay and stress involved in negotiating and finalising the divorce settlement.
Negotiating a divorce settlement isn’t easy. Preparation is key. Get advice, make sure you understand the basics of your finances, know what you want and need, keep your emotions in check and have a realistic plan of action. The more prepared you are, the greater the chances of a favourable outcome.
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