The best way to negotiate is to talk to your spouse. Don’t make your case the war of the Roses. Try to communicate with each other – especially if you have kids. If you can’t talk face-to-face with your spouse without getting into an arousement, then talk on the phone. If that doesn’t work, text message each other. Use email. Do whatever you need to do to communicate in any way you can.
If any kind of meaningful communication between you and your spouse is impossible, see if your spouse will go with you to a mediator. A mediator is an independent third party who is trained in conflict resolution. A mediator may be able to help you and your spouse negotiate an agreement in your divorce and perhaps even re-open the lines of communication between you. If that doesn’t work, ask your attorney to schedule a four-way settlement conference between you, your spouse, and both attorneys.
If you and your spouse can’t even be in the same room together without fighting, your options become more limited. Your lawyer can try to negotiate with your spouse’s lawyer directly. If that doesn’t work, your lawyer may be able to schedule a pretrial conference with the judge. At that conference the lawyers will present the case in summary fashion to the judge, who will then issue settlement recommendations. Often, the judge’s recommendations can help settle the case.
Karen A. Covy, J.D. is a divorce attorney and family law mediator in Chicago Illinois . She is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends, How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially and Legally.