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Divorce Resources for Women

Taking a Hard Position During Divorce Negotiations Can Be a Critical Mistake

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Taking a Hard Position During Divorce Negotiations Can Be a Critical Mistake by Melissa Burns

{1:18 minutes to read} The decision to end a marriage is painful for everyone involved. Even after couples accept that their relationship is over, the inevitable changes in their lifestyles are often difficult to cope with. It’s hard for parents to imagine not seeing their children every day, or living somewhere else that may not be as nice as the home they currently have. It’s hard for people whose long-term plans included a partner to realize that they must now go it alone.

Some challenging issues that couples commonly need to address include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • How will we raise our children?
  • What should we do with our house?
  • How do we divide our retirement assets?

At this point in the mediation process, the spouse who did not initiate the divorce sometimes becomes angry and begins making demands. After all, they didn’t want this, so why should their life change? This anger often creates impasse, particularly when couples are trying to make big decisions.

It is important to remember that your spouse is never going to agree to something that he/she can’t live with. Refusing to negotiate on an issue that you know your spouse feels is unreasonable is a critical mistake. As long as you maintain your immovable position, the process can’t move forward.

The best way to find a solution is to ask: “What would it take for you to compromise on your position?” While this might sound counterintuitive to those that look at divorce as a battleground, it is the best way to find a solution. Once your spouse sees you being reasonable, they are more likely to do the same. This changes the conversation and allows the two of you to work together to reach an agreement that can meet both of your needs.

Remember: divorce mediation is about looking ahead, not backward. By focusing on areas of agreement rather than on areas of contention, you can create an outcome that allows you each to begin to heal.


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