Divorce Settlement Agreement

Knowing how to negotiate a divorce settlement agreement is as much about handling your emotions as it is about negotiating an equitable settlement.

This has got to be a difficult negotiation. From the start those involved are unhappy with each other or at least less than motivated to accommodate the other person. Moreover communications have likely reached a low and tempers are likely to flare at the slightest provocation.

That said, there are important issues to be negotiated and resolved so everyone can move on to the next phase in their lives. If there are children involved their interests really should be considered as a priority.

You and your spouse will need to tackle this problem together. It may not be something that the two of you should take on without the help of professionals. No matter how you decide to approach the task, to handle the situation properly you should follow these steps to be prepared.

A divorce settlement need only be a problem if you are not ready:

• Clear Your Head - Find a way to leave the reasons for the divorce at the 'door' and be civil.
• Practice Effective Communications - Allow your spouse to speak and listen to what she is saying. When you speak, make sure you are not using inflammatory language and observe your spouse to insure you are being understood.
• Don't React - Negotiating is about the best offense, not a good defense. Don't lose control of the discussions by being drawn into another argument or emotional spat.
• Mitigate Your Losses - In a divorce there are no winners. Both parties are losing a lot. What you are trying to do is salvage what you can from a bad situation. This is an excellent time to embrace compromise and seek to mitigate your losses. It is not time to be seeking revenge.
• Prepare - Agree on the issues to be negotiated and make sure both parties know what information and documents will be needed to properly address each item. Don't forget to consider addressing future expenses such as college tuition for the children, retirement planning, health insurance coverage, and all the costs of keeping the house. It is frustrating to have to reschedule a meeting because someone forgot to bring a key piece of paper.

Do you need an attorney for a settlement conference? Not necessarily. If things are relatively civil between you and your spouse you may be able to do it yourselves or with an impartial observer. To this end you might consider a member of the clergy, a professional mediator, or a mutual friend.