Understanding the difference between interests and positions could make all of the difference in helping you negotiate a better outcome in your divorce. Position-Based Bargaining: Most people have a tendency to negotiate by arguing in favor of their positions. In divorce, this type of “position-based” bargaining can actually make it more difficult to get what you want. Once you and your spouse become locked into positions, the need to defend those positions can lead to a lengthy and expensive divorce. Often position based negotiations come to an end only after both parties have reached a point of physical and emotional exhaustion only to reach a “meet in the middle” agreement. One of the many problems with meeting in “the middle” is that the best solutions may have existed outside of either position. Creative negotiation that avoid positions and focus on interests can lead to outcomes that are better for both parties. Interest-Based Bargaining: In divorce, couples start by determining their interests and look for true “win/win” scenarios. In order to appreciate how interest-based bargaining works, it is important to understand the difference between positions and interests. Positions are narrow; “win/lose” proposals can only be satisfied in one way. For example, statements such as “I want Sole custody” or “I need $5,000 per month in support” or “I must have the house” represent positions that require the other person to “lose” in order for you to win. On the other hand, “interests” (sometimes called goals) focus on big picture desires that can be satisfied in many ways. Statements such as “I want our children to be kept out of the conflict” or “I want financial stability for both homes” or “I want us to be able to communicate better in our co-parenting” are requests to have an important interest met. One of the advantages of focusing on big-picture interests is that you and your spouse are likely to have many of these interests in common. Therefore, although working on the details of how these interests can be met will still require some problem solving skills (and some bargaining) the negotiation becomes easier because you are both working toward these important common goals. Interest-based bargaining is a skill that needs to be developed over time. Divorce negotiations are usually improved when the professionals involved have significant training and experience in this method so that they can teach these skills to their clients. Most mediators and Collaborative professionals have training and experience in interest based bargaining. To locate a professional who understands this method to interview and to learn more about interest based divorce negotiation go to www.collaborativelaw.org or www.divorcechoice.com.
Have you ever wondered about how to do something that felt daunting but maybe not super complicated (baking a perfect soufflé, building a patio, learning to golf) and decided to follow the advice to “Just look on YouTube!” So you find several videos on YouTube, select the one in your language, and set off to do this thing on your own. How difficult could it be? The Catch: It’s generally harder than it looks on YouTube Those demonstrations are done by people with lots of experience and expertise, who make it seem effortless. And this will be the first time you’re doing this. Perhaps all will go well, but if it does not, your understandable reactions could include: “Why didn’t anybody tell me soufflés need different baking times and temperatures at different altitudes! How many times will I have to experiment to get this right?” “What am I supposed to do now? I hit a big tree root while digging the patio foundation?” “Golf has a lot of moving parts! I really do need lessons.” Because we don’t know what we don’t know, getting the right kind of specialized or expert help at the beginning of a project can be very valuable, can save time and expense and will help prevent frustration and anxiety. What Does this Have to do with Divorce? When ending a marriage, many couples hope to minimize conflict, expense and time by choosing an uncontested divorce process. These range from DIY divorces using down-loadable forms to hiring professionals who do alternative or out-of-court dispute resolution. I am one of those professionals, a neutral child specialist who assists parents and children in a variety of ways during the transition from marriage to getting unmarried. Though I can work with any process, I often work on Collaborative Practice teams offering respectful, out of court, problem solving support for the legal, financial, relationship and parenting issues that are part of a divorce. Those of us doing this work know that there can be complications, unexpected issues, lots of moving parts, and pieces of information not necessarily available to the general public about how laws work. We especially like to help families at the beginning, to set people up for success. I know there are many couples who do not need or want professional services to have a respectful and equitable divorce, and I wish them all the best! But if it becomes more complicated than it appeared on YouTube, please do not hesitate to call.
Your divorce is over. It’s time to start sorting through all the things you need to do, to get your financial life in order. Here are just a few tips to help you thrive financially, as you move into this phase of your life. Pay Off Credit Card Debt One of the most important steps to achieve your financial goals is eliminating credit card debt. Start by paying off the balance of one credit card at a time, by either:
- Paying off the highest interest rate credit card first, or
- Paying off the smallest balance first, then applying that payment amount to the next smallest balance