Going through a divorce is one of the hardest things you may have deal with in your life. It’s a time of high emotion, pain and anger and it’s something no one ever wants to endure. Divorce rates are currently on the rise in Australia and whilst no one imagines their marriage may end when they are standing at the altar, the fact is many of us will need to go down the divorce path in the future. It may seem daunting and overwhelming if you are in this situation, but there’s are few guidelines you can follow to help make the process easier and less stressful than it needs to be.
Understand Your Finances
If you don’t know or don’t understand your current financial situation, you must seek advice before any negotiations begin. Unless you have a firm understanding of what you own and owe, you will automatically start off on the back foot. Don’t hesitate to hire a profession financial advisor to explain your finances to you, it will cost a fee to do this but it will be nothing compared to what you may lose in the long run.
Know the Wants and Needs of You and Your Spouse
Many people enter divorce negotiations having a clear understanding of what they don’t want, but often don’t understand what they actually do want. Identify your wants and needs and rank them in order of importance. It’s rare that you will get everything you want, but if you know what is most important, you can at least try to negotiate so you get what you need. It’s also important to know the wants and needs of your spouse. Negotiation requires compromise and cooperation so it’s crucial you have some insight into the wants and needs of your spouse. This will enable you to negotiate in a manner that will satisfy both of you. The more you can create a situation where both of you feel like you have won something, the more likely you are to succeed in settling your case amicably.
Know Your Bottom Line
You have to know what you can and can’t live with before you start negotiating. If your spouse won’t settle on terms you can live with, then you have to be ready to walk away. This also means that you have to have the courage to reject proposals that fall short of what you want. Your bottom line should also be realistic, it’s difficult to negotiate a fair agreement with unrealistic expectations and you will be left disappointed and upset.
Leave Your Emotions Outside
It’s difficult to keep your emotions out of the negotiations however nothing will derail the discussion faster than falling back into the same old arguments you have had with your spouse throughout the marriage. Try to stay calm, and focus on the reason you in this position – to close the chapter and move forward on to a new one. Getting emotional will drag out the process longer than it needs to be. If things get heated, take a break and resume your negotiations once everyone has calmed down.
Have a Clear Strategy and Plan
You need to have goals but more importantly, you need to have a plan to achieve those goals. Without a clear plan of action your chances of actually accomplishing what you want will be drastically reduced. Start by knowing what you want and then brainstorm different ways that you can get it before you start negotiating. Understand alternatives and know what you will and won’t accept. Don’t start negotiations at your bottom line, ask for more so that you have something to give up. The best negotiation is the one in which everyone feels like a winner or at least, feel they have won something that they wanted.
Negotiating a divorce settlement isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t a fun process. Preparation is key. Get advice, make sure you understand the basics of your finances, know what you want and need, try to put your emotions aside and have an action plan. The more prepared you are, the greater the chances of a favourable outcome for both parties.
Need advice? Robert Wood and Associates are experts in Family Law and will offer professional and friendly service guiding you through the process from start to finish. Contact us today for more information.