4 key negotiating skills for divorce mediation

Many California spouses are relieved when they learn that they can legally end their marriage without going to court. This is beneficial, especially for parents who typically want to minimize disruption and stress in their children’s lives as they work out a settlement with their former partners. Divorce mediation is an option that many parents choose. If you’re considering it, you’ll want to brush up on your negotiation skills.

Top-level business executives often put their negotiation skills to the test. It’s helpful to approach divorce mediation sessions in a similar manner to that which you might have at an important business meeting. Keeping four key issues in mind helps lay the groundwork for successful negotiations.

Divorce mediation is non-confrontational, so keep your emotions in check

Divorce is never easy; it’s often emotionally difficult, particularly for those who have been married for many years. A primary goal of mediation, however, is to achieve a fair settlement without litigation, which, by nature, is adversarial. To mediate a divorce, you and your ex must agree to avoid confrontation. Keeping your emotions in check is a top negotiation tool you’ll want to always use.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t feel sad, upset, frustrated or even angry during divorce mediation sessions. It does mean, however, that you will do your best to respond in a respectful and amicable manner. If you don’t think that you and your former spouse can peacefully discuss issues like property division, child custody or spousal support, then mediation might not be the best dispute resolution option for the two of you.

Analyze and identify problems, needs and goals

It’s good to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish in divorce mediation sessions. However, the best negotiators also understand what the other party needs and hopes to achieve. A one-sided understanding won’t get you very far when negotiating a divorce settlement. Before sessions begin, you’ll want to take time to identify the problems, then develop a basic analysis of where each of you stands on the issues and what you both need or want and hope to achieve.

The best negotiators are organized and prepared

If you are trying to resolve a dispute during divorce mediation sessions or make a specific request, you must be prepared to substantiate your claim or demonstrate a justifiable reason for your request. Having necessary documents on-hand (i.e., bank statements, estate plans, loan documents, etc.) may help you avoid confusion as well as delays.

Divorce mediation works best if both sides feel that the court is hearing their needs

During mediation sessions, you are free to speak your opinions and share your thoughts on each topic, provided you do so in a non-confrontational manner. Your ex is free to do the same, which means part of each session will involve listening to what he or she has to say. Active listening is a top negotiation skill.

To implement this skill, you must refrain from interrupting when your ex is speaking. You’ll also want to repeat back what you have heard to ensure you understood it correctly, and ask questions to show that you are listening and want to cooperate to find a solution to the problem. Divorce mediation rules allow you to have legal representation present during sessions, which is a good idea because an experienced family law attorney is a skillful negotiator.