March 11, 2015

How to Prepare for Negotiations – Part II

You have made the wise choice to select a process that focuses on supporting you and your partner in reaching a principled agreement resolving your issues. You are not home free, however, because you still need to participate in the process effectively to insure that those things that matter most to you will be resolved. To recap Part I of this blog – your first three steps to good negotiations are:

  1. Find a process that specializes in negotiations.
  2. Gather all of your critical information before you begin talking about your final settlement.
  3. Begin the process by visualizing your goals.

The collaborative process supports both parties by helping them make sure that all of the things that must be considered will be considered. One of the first things that is done is to work on discussing and setting goals for each party. This is an important visualizing stage in which each of you is asked to consider how you would like things to look after the divorce is final. There is considerable information about how effective it can be to think about how things will look when you have completed a task, whether it is looking for a new job, moving to a new community, or buying a new home. Parties who have done this seem to be much more likely to have what they have visualized than parties who don’t do this. Here is a link to an article that describes this process:

When there are minor children involved most often the process will begin by focusing the parenting issues first. For most parents, the children are the most important consideration, and once they reached agreement on how the children will be parented and provided for it is less difficult to resolve the financial issues. This is not to suggest that property issues are always easy, for they are not, but knowing how each of you are committed to participate in the parenting and support of your children, there is a foundation upon which property settlements can be reached.

The issues surrounding the children will be resolved with the neutral child specialist and the coach. You may consult with your attorney during this process, but attorneys usually will not be part of those meetings. Your attorney will review the terms of your Parenting Plan with you, as an additional check to make sure that you are comfortable with that agreement and understand it thoroughly.

In getting ready for the negotiations on property issues, the financial neutral will have prepared gathered all data and assessed reasonable values as needed. Sometimes valuation issues can be quite significant.

However, at some point the parenting agreement shall be reached; assets and debts will have been gathered, assessed and valued; and budgets will have been generated by each party working together. You are now ready to enter negotiations. Approach this as a problem to be solved, not a battle to be fought.

Once these preliminary steps have been taken, here are your final keys to successful negotiations:

  1. Review your goals and have them written out in front of you when you sit down to negotiate.
  2. Spend time before this meeting to do two important things:
    1. Think about the things that are most important to you, and make some notes about several different ways in which those interests might be met.
    2. Since successful negotiations must work for both parties, spend make a few notes about what things are most important to your partner.
  3. Get yourself centered. Do some deep breathing, become aware of what your concerns are, and let go of them.

Remember, you will never be required to make a final decision under duress or pressure, at least not by the attorneys and professionals in this process. If there are things that are unsatisfactory to you, discuss them with your attorney, and consider possible ways that might accomplish finding a solution to which you can commit. You are then ready to move into creating your new future.

Bruce Peck

Bruce is one of the founding members of the Collaborative Law Institute.
Back in the Wonder Years, this small group was trying to figure out what a new way of practicing family law might look like. Today the collaborative law concept has exploded, not just throughout the United States, but also internationally. For over thirty years Bruce has continued to hone his skills to provide the highest quality of services to family law clients. He helps good people make tough choices during difficult times.

Bruce is a laid back and easy going person who listens well to others. He is a shameless optimist who can always see possibility and opportunity. Being very curious by nature, he is a voracious reader. His love for words has drawn him into being an avid poet.

Bruce’s skills supports clients interests without alienating their spouse. When the parties reach agreement, it is not under duress. They have the time to discuss all decisions with their attorneys before signing the agreement. Once completed, the stipulated divorce is filed with the court for a default hearing in which neither party, nor their attorneys, ever have to set foot inside a courthouse. Learn more at

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