Negotiation is an art. It requires patience. It is critical thinking and strategy at its best. It may take different shapes and sizes but it still has its core components. “Any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria: It should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible. It should be efficient. And it should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties. (A wise agreement can be defined as one that meets the legitimate interests of each side to the extent possible, resolves conflicting interests fairly, is durable, and takes community interests into account).”
What often happens when one person decides to separate is that the person has a consultation with an attorney and decides to hire the attorney to draft a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. Negotiation has just begun. Once the Agreement is finalized, the attorney presents it to the other party. The other party then has a consultation with an attorney, if he or she has not already, and the Agreement is reviewed and revised. Both parties have “lawyered up” and, more often than not, have taken extreme positions. When parties take positions, it is often referred to as positional bargaining. Everything that happens between hiring a lawyer and the signing of the Agreement is called negotiation.
There is an alternative to positional bargaining, which was created by the Harvard Negotiation Project called principled negotiation or negotiation on the merits. Principled negotiation consists of four basic points: (1) “Separate the people from the problem.” (2) “Focus on interests, not positions.” (3) “Invent multiple options looking for mutual gains before deciding what to do.” (4) “Insist that the result be based on some objective standard.” For some, this method of negotiation is far more effective and rewarding for both parties involved. It can involve less time and money and often helps parties reach a result with which they are both satisfied.
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