Negotiations
Summary in Divorce

After one spouse has filed for divorce, the parties, one way or another, begin negotiations in search of a property settlement. Face to face or through lawyers or mediators or collaboratively, the spouses seek to hammer out an agreement about the division and distribution of the marital estate, spousal and child support, visitation. These meetings are called negotiations.

When they end successfully, nothing is in dispute, and divorce can proceed through the courts.

Negotiations may freeze when one person does not want the marriage to end. In most divorces, one spouse wants out and one does not -- at least at the onset. When marriages end, a surprising number of spouses fail to see the end at hand until the other spouse says it is over. Rufus’s announcement that he wants a divorce may blindside Rhonda, who has no idea of Roxanne. Thus, the person who wants to leave may be way ahead of the person who does not see the breakup coming -- at least emotionally and mentally. The person who is left may try to stall, sometimes in hope of a reunification, but as the divorce progresses, he or she moves toward the point where both spouses understand the marriage is over.

Negotiations frequently bring into play what are termed leverage factors, considerations made by each of the parties pertaining to the issues that are being disputed.

In divorce actions, one leverage factor is, in whose interest is it to remain married longest? Answering this question can be a starting point at the onset of divorce negotiations because it creates leverage over the negotiations. If Rufus has left Rhonda for Roxanne, Rhonda has leverage she can work to her advantage in property settlement negotiations. A person prepared to wait has a bargaining tool that can be brought to bear in property negotiations.

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