Divorce Attorney Tips: Negotiating A Settlement Out Of Court


What are some negotiation strategies or tips guys can use to improve their chances of achieving a fair divorce without litigation?

  Anne Scipior, Wisconsin divorce attorney

If you’re trying to negotiate a resolution to  your divorce without litigation, I would certainly recommend making a list of what you want from the divorce and prioritize what your most important goals are.

Then, I would suggest sitting down with your spouse at a neutral location (a restaurant for example) and try to have a meaningful discussion about what her goals are for the divorce and what her main priorities are. Once you both know how the other feels on any given issue, it will help you either reach a negotiated resolution, or will help you realize that a negotiated resolution might not be possible.

If your goals differ, that will allow the two of you to discuss how you might be able to agree to something that’s really important to her if she’s willing to give up on something that’s more important to you.

If talking with the other person directly is out of the question, there are some attorneys who provide private mediation services to couples who are trying to resolve a divorce without litigation.

  Stephanie Horton, North Carolina divorce attorney

The best negotiation strategy is to position yourself from a perspective of objectivity and not emotion. The more you allow the negative emotions in particular to cloud your reason, the greater the likelihood that your case will not settle.

Settlement is about compromise. It’s important to not demand more than you know the other person is willing to give, but just as important to not give up everything in the hope of a quick resolution.

  Jillian French, Texas divorce attorney

When preparing to make offers of settlement and enter into negotiation, it is important for the client to be informed regarding the current law and set realistic expectations.

When I prepare a client for mediation, I make sure we have a proposed property division that lists all assets and debts. Then, my client and I go through and determine which assets or issues in the case are going to be most important to the opposing party and to my client. We will go through several scenarios of the client’s best-case scenario all the way down to the client’s bottom line and where they absolutely will not negotiate.

Making this type of plan is extremely helpful once negotiations begin to ensure the client isn’t forgetting about any details or “leaving anything on the table.”

Determining what is most important to each party is important to determine where you can give a little more in one area in order to get what you ultimately want somewhere else.

Also, being prepared with evidence showing why you can’t pay what the opposing party is asking for or to support your request regarding having more time with the children is extremely useful when negotiating and attempting to settle a case. Have a plan and be prepared to support your requests and show why the requests are reasonable or fair.

  Jamie Smith, Colorado divorce attorney

Don’t fight about the little things, such as inexpensive household items that can easily be replaced. If you aren’t a stickler on those types of things, you will come across as more open-minded and cooperative.

When the opposing party perceives you this way, they will naturally be more willing to negotiate. That in turn will enable you to focus on the big issues, like the marital home, retirement benefits, spousal maintenance and division of debts.

Also, as hard as it may be, try to always remain cordial and pleasant when communicating with the opposing party. It’s easy to lash out and push the other person’s buttons, but that just results in hurt feelings and escalated emotions which will always derail negotiations.

  Samuel Patry, Ohio divorce attorney

Knowledge is power — Know your opposing counsel, the court, but most importantly, know your facts.

Focus on negotiations, not emotions — Emotions will cloud your judgment, your ability to take in the full picture and may tip your hand. Keep your cards close to your chest. Let them spend time wondering what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling while you calculate and consider the best way to approach what is on the table.

Evidence is what tips the scale — Obtain it and make sure it has been thoroughly reviewed, organized and is easily accessible if needed during negotiations.

Concessions — Consider when and how to make a concession. Keep what you are willing to give up to yourself and consider when in the negotiation conceding the point will be most beneficial. I sometimes use something at the beginning to get a cooperative spirit in the room, but usually hold something back and keep it as an offer when we won’t concede on a certain more important point. It gives the opposing attorney something to take back to his or her client.

Don’t let them dictate the rules of the negotiation; re-think the problem — Don’t get bogged down in the way they phrase or spell out the negotiation. Think in terms of coming up to solutions versus thinking of ways to beat them using their formula.

For example, don’t ask yourself, “What can I do to force my spouse to give this to me?” Instead, think “What might my spouse want that I can package to make her change what she cares about?”

By relying on the methodology or manner in which a problem is posed, we often miss solutions which might have otherwise been obvious.

  Tyler Woudwyk, Texas divorce attorney

My advice would be that a guy needs to keep in mind his most important goals and not be dragged down into the minutia.

So many times have I seen what promised to be a successful negotiation get derailed by focusing on far less important matters. Principles are great until they start costing you your more important objectives.

Always focus on what is most important to you: your kids, homes, your classic cars, etc. Don’t try to negotiate to take something away from her.

Killing an otherwise great deal because you don’t want to give her the couch simply because you know she really wants it really isn’t helping you in the long run. Focus on what you want.

  Kari Yeomans, Ohio divorce attorney

The most important strategy for obtaining a fair divorce without litigation is to be realistic and listen to the advice of their attorney. It is important to remember that a divorce will forever change the life that both parties have become accustomed, which can be good or bad depending on the lifestyle.

Men should remember that they have every right to be a part of the children’s life. Men should remember that all property will be divided in an equitable way.

The best strategy for settlement is to know even before starting negotiations what issues are the most important, meaning the ones that you are willing to fight over. It is also just as important to know which issues are not important to you.

Listen to the advice of your attorney to understand what the court might do on all issues — but most importantly the high priority issues — so the best result can be made before the court has to decide.

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