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5 Divorce negotiation tips for your divorce settlement

Man and woman discussing at table

Originally published on 28th September 2018 at 10:20 AM

Read our negotiation tips to help you settle your divorce yourselves. We’ve also included some things to watch out for that might mean you’re better off getting some negotiation support from one of our divorce coaches.

Court costs have risen and it’s no longer possible to get legal aid in divorce cases (except in exceptional circumstances). This means a growing number of people find themselves negotiating their divorce settlement themselves. It’s often assumed that everyone can negotiate, but successfully negotiating a divorce settlement can be tricky. Not only do you need to understand what the law says about dividing your finances, but you also need to keep your emotions in check.

Make sure you’re ‘divorce ready’

This means dealing with the raw emotions and being in a place where you’re calm enough to think strategically and not focus on revenge, retaliation or making your partner pay for ‘wrongs’ of the past. You can check your divorce-readiness here.

Practice staying calm and in control of your emotions

Learn what triggers negative reactions in you – is there a specific point of disagreement that you and your ex have or is it something they say or do that winds you up. Whatever it is, identify it and practice staying calm when thinking about it or experiencing it. You could get a friend to role-play talking about the issue.

Negotiate from a position of knowledge

Do you know what the law says about splitting assets? Don’t guess, don’t rely on what happened in your friend’s divorce – find out. You can use our divorce tips page for general legal information or book a free 15-minute divorce advice call with one of our expert divorce coaches.

Be clear on what you want

…but accept you won’t get everything. Work out what you need. Think about what this leaves your partner with – a successful settlement has to work for both of you. Brainstorm or generate ideas and options before being too narrowly focused on one thing or becoming emtrenched.

Become an effective communicator

Everybody knows that its as much about how you say something as what the message contains that makes it successful. Use simple language, short sentences. Don’t tell someone what you’re not going to do or not going to accept… talk about what’s possible, what’s acceptable. Buy yourself time with the phrase ‘I’ll need some time to consider your proposal properly’. ‘What if’ is a great opener, and ‘what else’ (are you prepered to consider/offer) a great follow-up.

There may be some times when the negotiation playing field is too uneven for you to effectively mange a divorce setttlement yourselves. Maybe one of you is a much stronger negotatior because of their job. Or maybe one of you is in a more powerful position. In these circumstances, we recomend getting negotiation support. This ensures the person in the weaker position is protected. Here are some signs you need supported negotiation:

  • You or your partner cirtisise each other (rather than cirtique ideas)
  • There is contempt, personal attacks, sarcasum, body language such as eye rolling
  • You feel rail roaded by your partner and unable to get your point across
  • Your partner talks over you and never gives you space to say what you want
  • There is frequent outward hostility or anger from one or both of you
  • Entrenchemnt – one or both of you is/are not willing to see other’s point of view
  • One of you has narcissistic tendencies – e.g.excessively hauty, arrogant or manipulative
  • All or nothing thinking – extreme views are held and total disaster is predicted if things don’t go your/their way
  • Discussions centre on blaming each other rather than finding solutions
  • Things rapidly descend into an argument
Rebecca Jones
Rebecca Jones
Rebecca has a background in family law and has also been through her own divorce. Rebecca is fantastic at offering pragmatic advice and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the legalities around divorce and separation.


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