The unfolding carnage of Brexit should single-handedly drive divorce and separation rates through the floor. Watching Europe’s top negotiators fail to reach a deal must leave even the most optimistic amongst us questioning the state of the nation’s negotiations skills.
If the trained, well informed and brilliantly supported can’t negotiate a smooth exit, what hope is there for any of us facing our own ‘once in a generation’ negotiation when we divorce?
Here are 5 Tips to Avoid a No-Deal Brexit With Your Ex:
Agree It’s Over:
There is no going back; and, whether you wanted this or not, you both agree it’s over. Negotiating the detail of your divorce without this affirmation is hell – just ask Mrs. May. If you are not in this space – get help. Repair therapy, or therapy to help you end your relationship, are both better than burying your head in the sand and hoping ‘time will heal’. It rarely does… and if it did, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
Identify ‘Shared Interests:’
Divorce is happening, how could it be good for us both? What could we create to replace what’s been? (e.g. a cool co-parenting relationship rather than a parenting one). Don’t punish the other person but instead create a shared understanding of what your future apart looks like. If you have kids, you’re still going to need to trade, so creating a newly functioning relationship is key. Share your interests, not your positions (tip: asking ‘why’ is a quick way to get beyond a position). Paint a picture you both sign up to.
Understand What’s Possible before Deciding What you Want:
The biggest mistake people make is to come to a negotiation with unrealistic expectations. Do some research (see below) and find out the parameters. When you know the range of possibilities, decide what’s important to you and where your red lines are. A red line means you will walk away from the negotiation – so you need to be clear on what that means… (usually going to court) and how much walking away will cost (financially and emotionally).
Beware Divorce by Twitter –
Don’t create your own Twitter hell by asking friends and family their opinion. There’s no quicker way of destroying a good deal than asking the ill-informed. Any sentence starting ‘In my/my friend’s/my neighbor’s <insert as appropriate> divorce, he/she got….’ should be avoided at all costs. This is not helpful, likely not true, or at best taken out of context… remember the Boris bus…? Negotiate your own deal. Get professional advice, do your research.
You Won’t Get Everything:
The c-word rules. Compromise is different from splitting the difference. Compromise happens when you understand the other person’s interests and you understand that they need something out of the deal too. You split the difference when you are positionally negotiating. Remember, you won’t get more just because your partner decided to end the relationship, so don’t make the mistake of only focusing on what you want – look to ensure you have satisfied what your ex needs too. A good deal has something for everyone.
In divorce terms term, ‘no deal’ means going to court to have your finances determined for you by a judge. It means giving up the right to decide your own future and having a deal imposed upon you that may not fit your family circumstances.
Sometimes it’s necessary (if your ex won’t negotiate or disclose their finances) but usually it’s the thin end of the wedge, costing huge amounts of cash and emotional energy. Finding a supportive negotiation process is the most likely route to coming away with a good deal. How you start the negotiation process will very often determine how it plays out, so it’s important to negotiate smart from the start.