Say what? Yeah, it is. It may be more emotional (let’s be honest – it is more emotional), but at the end of the day, it is very similar to a business transaction, which is a good a thing. The same techniques of negotiation can be used to hammer out a deal that doesn’t destroy relationships, is less resource intensive, and produces less stress.
Many of the most important concepts of negotiation are contained in the seminal publication Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury.
A good agreement is one that is wise and efficient, and improves the parties’ relationship. That’s right! Negotiating a divorce does not need to be a lose-lose deal. It should be win-win!
In Getting to Yes, the authors outline four principles for effective negotiation and describe three common obstacles. At The Law Office Of Robert B. Buchanan, we employ these techniques on a daily basis.
Principle #1: Separating People and Issues. This is the most difficult part of the divorce negotiation process. People become emotionally connected to each issue, naturally. As such, they will take responses to proposals as personal attacks. By separating the people from the issues, the parties are able to address the issues without damaging their relationships.
Principle #2: Focus on Interests. By focusing on interests rather than positions there is a much better chance at arriving at a win-win solution. Per the authors, “Your position is something you have decided upon. Your interests are what caused you to so decide.” Often times, when interests uncovered and articulated, the parties realize that their views are more aligned than previously thought.
Principle #3: Generate Options. In order to come up with the best solution, the parties must be open to generating options. This is creative process that requires the parties to let go of premature decisions, and to be open to creative alternatives. As the authors state, parties can often find compatible solutions “[looking] for items that are of low cost to you and high benefit to them, and vice versa.”
Principle #4: Insist That The Agreement Be Based on Objective Criteria. Interests are sometimes opposed. If you allow these differences to fuel an emotional, subjective reaction, relationships will be destroyed. Instead, the parties should decide on objective criteria to resolve the differences. This is easy in the legal context, as the law provides objective precedent applicable to each unique situation.
Understanding the keys to effective negotiation is fundamental to resolving a divorce fairly and cost-effectively. At The Law Office Of Robert B. Buchanan, we practice courtroom litigation and negotiation, giving our clients the best possible chance of a favorable outcome.