Compromise is a necessary part of life. Differences inevitably arise in our personal and work lives. Resolution of these differences generally takes place through negotiation. The goal of negotiation is to reach an understanding, which means compromise. calvin and hobbes cartoon Is Calvin right? How would you describe a good compromise? Does it leave everybody mad? Is a compromise that leaves anybody mad really a good one? I don’t thinks so. Generally speaking, there are two recognized methods of negotiation:
  • Distributive bargaining, also known as “win-lose,” “zero-sum,” and “divide-the-pie” negotiation, assumes that resources are fixed and that future relationship between the parties is unimportant. Everyday examples include buying a house or car.
  • Integrative bargaining, also known as “win-win,” “interest-based,” and “expand-the-pie” negotiation, can lead to better outcomes when issues are complex and the parties value their future relationship.
Divorce typically involves multiple, complex, ongoing issues, including parenting, property and cash flow. Divorcing couples, especially those with children, are interested not only in a fair settlement, but also in having a comfortable post-divorce relationship. They want to be able to co-parent their children effectively. Most want to put family members and friends at ease without having to take sides.  They also want to be able to participate in graduations, weddings, holiday gatherings and other social events without the angst that they have seen their divorced friends and family members experience. Traditional divorce processes encourage the parties to take positions on various issues, exchange settlement proposals, and, ultimately, either make compromises or go to trial. Compromises are made and one or both parties are mad. The Collaborative law process, however, uses interest-based negotiation techniques to help them to achieve these interests. Use of integrative bargaining encourages them to express their goals, which more often than not are shared goals. Once the relevant information has been gathered, the parties have the often-difficult conversations about their fears and hopes. They are encouraged to generate and evaluate potential settlement options. Agreeing to a plan for the future requires compromise by each party. But because the compromises follow open, cooperative discussion and are made for the benefit of the family as a whole, they can leave everybody hopeful about the future … not mad.