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When you’re getting divorced, it can feel like a losing battle. Your world is turning upside down—the life you envisioned is gone, your financial stability is in jeopardy, and the pain of letting go is immeasurable. In the midst of such a difficult transition, you may be tempted to just give in, to settle for less than you deserve out of sheer exhaustion with the whole process.

But you still have the power to shape your future. With knowledge and perseverance, you can advocate for your needs during settlement talks. Though it may not feel like it now, an equitable agreement is possible. This can provide stability to heal and, in time, find peace.

Stay rooted in what matters most as you navigate negotiations. Seek understanding where possible, but stand firm where you can’t bend. An agreement shouldn’t punish, though self-protection is vital.

The following ten tips aim to help you secure the best settlement to thrive after divorce.

1. Focus on Interests Over Positions During Divorce Negotiations

Positional bargaining involves each spouse stating what they want and refusing to bend. For example, a spouse may say, “I want the house,” and refuse to consider alternatives. This adversarial approach destroys trust and makes compromise difficult.

Interest-based negotiation focuses on the underlying interests, values, and goals motivating each position. For example, a spouse wants the house because it allows the children to stay in their school district. With this knowledge, alternative solutions become available – such as selling the house and using the proceeds to rent a home in the same school district.

By uncovering interests, you can find creative solutions that satisfy both spouses. Some questions to reveal interests include:

  • Why is this important to you?
  • What concerns you most about this issue?
  • How will this decision impact the children?

Avoid attacking or judging your spouse’s interests. The goal is understanding, not forcing your position onto them.

2. Conduct Full Financial Disclosure Before Divorce Negotiations

It’s impossible to equitably divide marital property or determine fair child support and alimony without full knowledge of your family’s finances.

Prior to negotiation, use discovery processes to obtain:

  • Tax returns for the past several years
  • Documentation of assets and debts
  • Pay stubs, W2s, and other income records
  • Retirement and investment account statements
  • Records of gifts and inheritances

Being transparent about finances builds trust and sets you up to negotiate a settlement fairly. Hiding assets can backfire badly if later uncovered.

3. Keep Your Emotions Under Control

Divorce negotiations can stir up intense emotions. Anger, hurt, fear, sadness – it’s all normal. However, these feelings shouldn’t drive negotiations. Stay calm and think logically.

If needed, take breaks during negotiations to clear your head. Discuss your feelings privately with your family law attorney, not your soon-to-be ex. Losing control of your emotions can derail productive talks.

4. Don’t Destroy the Relationship

During a contested divorce, maintaining a civil relationship with your spouse makes co-parenting after divorce much smoother.

Avoid taking an overly aggressive negotiation approach. Don’t try to “crush” your spouse. Not only will this make reaching an agreement harder, but it can damage your ability to co-parent peacefully for years to come.

5. Make Parenting Time and Co-Parenting a Priority

Studies show the quality of the parent-child relationship is the top predictor of child outcomes after divorce. Negotiate parenting time and custody arrangements with your children’s best interests in mind.

Also, discuss expectations for co-parenting after the divorce – communication methods, coordination on discipline, attending your children’s events, and other co-parenting issues.
If you struggle to agree on custody terms, consider a professional child custody evaluation to provide recommendations to the court.

6. Be Ready to Compromise

It’s unlikely the initial divorce settlement proposed by you or your spouse includes everything you want. Expect to compromise – good negotiations involve give and take for both parties.

Stay focused on your core priorities and goals for life after the divorce. You may need to sacrifice some less critical items to gain agreement on the issues integral to your future happiness.

7. Use Mediation to Maintain Control Over the Outcome

In mediation, you and your spouse work with a neutral third party to negotiate divorce terms you both agree on. The mediator facilitates discussion but doesn’t force an outcome.

Mediation keeps you and your spouse in control, reduces conflicts, and is usually quicker and less expensive than litigation. If you reach an impasse, you still have the option to go to court.

Look for divorce mediators experienced in family law and certified by organizations like the Academy of Professional Family Mediators. Ask about their specific mediation approach.

8. Prioritize Issues Wisely

A divorce settlement addresses a multitude of issues – property division, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and more.

Rather than tackling everything at once, prioritize two or three of the most important issues to you and your spouse. By resolving the biggest challenges first, smaller issues fall into place more easily.

Avoid getting bogged down arguing over minor items like who gets the couch. Focus negotiations on the big things that truly impact your life and finances after the divorce.

9. Use Win-Win Negotiation Strategies to Achieve Goals

Your divorce settlement negotiation is not you versus your spouse. If one person “wins,” the other loses, breeding resentment. You both have valid goals, so look for win-win outcomes.

For example, your spouse wants to keep the house so your children stay in their school. You’d prefer selling the house so each spouse has equity to purchase new homes.

A win-win solution satisfies both interests – you sell the house, but your spouse keeps all equity to buy a nearby home so your children can still attend the same schools.

Win-win solutions require creativity, listening, and the willingness to compromise. Frame negotiations around how you can help your spouse achieve their goals, and they’ll reciprocate.

10. Seek Input From a Divorce or Family Law Attorney

An experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer can advise you on your rights, Minnesota law, and what is fair. They can also negotiate directly with your spouse’s attorney.

Even if you intend to represent yourself in the divorce, meet with a lawyer beforehand. They can review any proposed agreement to spot issues like ambiguity around asset division or unrealistic parenting time schedules.

Though it costs money upfront, a lawyer helps avoid mistakes that could harm your finances and relationship with your children for years to come.

Our Divorce Lawyers Can Help You Reach a Fair Settlement

Divorce negotiations require communication skills, emotional control, patience, and creativity to find win-win solutions. Prepare properly, focus on shared interests, and be willing to compromise.

While conflict will undoubtedly arise, maintaining a cooperative spirit and your children’s best interests at heart increases the odds of an equitable agreement. Work together with your spouse instead of against them for the best chance at an amicable divorce.

At Martine Law, our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys provide guidance at every stage of negotiations to help you achieve your goals and gain closure on this difficult chapter of your life.

Contact us today to discuss your options.