In a recent blog post entry, our New York City divorce attorneys discussed the benefits of a negotiated divorce versus a litigated one. Choosing the former can save you and your spouse a great deal of time, money and emotional energy.
That said, it doesn't mean the process won't be somewhat draining. After all, we're talking about a major life change for everyone involved. You may both recognize the split as something that is both necessary and ultimately positive. But that doesn't mean you won't at any point feel sad or overwhelmed or angry or have moments of doubt.
A successfully negotiated divorce settlement doesn't mean that you deny your emotions or overlook your concerns. However, it does mean that you both need to be on the same page about the ultimate goal: An overall amicable separation that is fair and will leave you both in a better position to begin the newest chapter of your lives.
As you prepare to sit down face-to-face with your soon-to-be-ex to work through the details - whether in a collaborative divorce process or through a mediator - there are some tips you may want to keep in mind that could ultimately bolster your success.
The first of those is, as much as possible, avoid letting your emotions dictate the tone of the discussions. This does not mean you can't acknowledge what you feel or where it is you are coming from. However, keep in mind that the goal of these meetings is to reach a point where you can move forward. Laying bare every past iniquity is not going to get you there. Think of these meetings as a business transaction, which is what they ultimately are. You are trying to untangle the life you had with this person. This may inevitably dredge up some hard feelings. That's why seeking mental health counseling on the side can be an important part of the process. But understand that the purpose of divorce settlement negotiations is to outline the legal terms of dissolution. By maintaining as much of an emotional distance from the process as possible, you increase your effectiveness at the table.
Secondly, we would suggest that both parties be open to compromise. Presumably, if you've opted for a negotiated divorce as opposed to a litigated one, you have both voiced the determination at the outset not to turn this into an epic battle. You may not be the best of friends, but you don't want to walk away hating each other either. To some extent, that may mean a willingness to let go. That doesn't have to mean anything extreme, such as giving up custody of your kids. However, it may mean being open to hearing your spouse out and truly considering their reason for asking for a concession. The hope is that he or she is going to then extend that same courtesy to you. In the end, this kind of cooperation is going to result in a plan you are both more likely to feel good about - or at least will be willing to accept.
Finally, do not be afraid during the course of this process to take a break. If you are feeling overwhelmed, call a time-out. If you are not understanding all of the legal jargon that is being tossed back and forth, request some time to review it in greater detail and gain a better understanding of what it means to you. What's at stake here is the landscape of your future, so don't hesitate to take a breather if that is what you need to do. Recognize that one meeting may not be enough to resolve every difference. It may take several meetings before you reach a good place with it - and everyone involved should be understanding of that process.
If you are contemplating a divorce in New York City, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.
Divorce Confidential: How to Prepare for a Settlement Meeting, Oct. 31, 2013, By Caroline Choi, The Huffington Post
More Blog Entries:
Brooklyn Collaborative Divorce an Alternative for Amicable Exes, Oct. 11, 2013, New York City Divorce Lawyer Blog