When you make the choice to hire a divorce mediator rather than lawyers, you have empowered yourself (and your ex) to play an active role in the process, increasing your chances of an agreement you can both feel good about. Below are six tips to help you navigate the negotiation process like a pro:
Be Physically Prepared
During the mediation process, you and your ex will be required to inventory all of your assets, including money, property, investment accounts, retirement accounts, art, and valuables, and to list their worth. With this information on hand, take some time to prioritize what is truly important to you. We recommend making a list with four columns. Column 1 should be the things that are most important to you, and column 4 should be the things you’re willing to give up without a care. Consider columns 2 and 3 to be your “negotiating chips,” items that you consider to be in play, once you have let go of the column 4 items. As you do this, place the value beside the item, so you can assess if you’re really being fair, or if you’re holding on too tight. If you know what your ex will be asking for, try to see how many of those items you can squeeze into columns 3 and 4, to set yourself up for success.
Be Emotionally Prepared
Going into a negotiation as an embattled spouse with open wounds and revenge plans may feel gratifying for a moment, but it won’t lead to a successful negotiation. Instead, try to steel yourself like a world-class poker player or a CEO. Leave your emotions at the door and stay focused on making the best deal for your future. You are not going to get everything you want, just because you put it in column 1. Get real with yourself about how that’s going to feel, and what emotions it might trigger, and have a plan for how you can react to remain in a position of strength.
Let Your Mediator Guide The Process
Now that you’ve done your prep work, you may feel ready to go in guns blazing, but take a breath. Your mediator is there to guide the process, to educate you both on what is considered fair based on the applicable laws, and make sure that the scales don’t dip too far in either direction. Your mediator is not on your team, nor are they rooting for your ex. They are rooting for the best possible outcome for both of you. If you feel annoyed that your mediator is listening to or empathizing with your ex, they are. Your mediator is trained to ask questions, break barriers, and get to the root of things, all of which are designed to remove obstacles and move you towards a fair and equitable settlement.
Two Ears, One Mouth
In a negotiation, the real power is in listening, not talking. You already know exactly what you want. What you need to know is what your ex wants, and why. Once you know that, it will be much easier to look at your list of priorities objectively, and see what you can let go of with the least pain, and what you can leverage to keep your high priority items. But listening isn’t just a power play. It’s also about hearing and understanding what your ex wants and needs, so you can focus your energy on a win-win.
Ask For What You Want
As important as it is to listen, asking for what you want is key. Be clear about what you want, and why. Be ready to vocalize your requests in a clear and concise way, including any emotional attachment you may have to the item being discussed. Understand that it’s your responsibility to ask for what you want and need, and that not doing so may result in the loss of those things, and lead to further disappointment and resentment down the line.
Take Your Time
Understand that your mediated agreement will be filed with the court and enforced in the same way it would be had you chosen to hire lawyers. Do not feel rushed or pressured in the negotiation process. If things become heated, or you need time to think through a potential trade off, you are absolutely entitled to do so. You are always free to take a break, step away, or if it’s too intense, to request that you and your ex be in separate rooms with your mediator going back and forth. It is okay to take your time. You didn’t build your life in a day, so don’t be surprised if you can’t divide it up in a day.
At Center for Divorce Solutions, we pride ourselves in creating an atmosphere for a kinder and gentler divorce. If you are ready to hire a divorce mediator, contact us today.