Divorce decisions should only be made once you know how you are going to go through the process. In a quote attributed to the late Yogi Berra, a hall-of-fame catcher who played for the New York Yankees, he tells us that “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” But before you can decide where you are going, your first critical decision is how you are going to get there. How you decide to go will largely determine what is available “there.”
Broadly speaking, you have two choices in the “how” of your divorce. First is the adversarial roadmap, where a complaint is filed, thereby entering your matter into the judicial system. Eventually, there will be negotiations, most likely adversarial negotiations. Your second choice is what I characterize as amicable or peaceful negotiations.
At the end of the adversarial roadmap is a Judicial decision and uncertainty. As the adversarial process moves forward, you will undoubtedly invest additional resources, financially and emotionally. The eventual outcome is likely to be an agreement limited to a battle over legal rights that is less flexible, more formal, can harm relationships, and gives rise to a win/lose conclusion.
The primary focus of amicable negotiations is interest-based – interests and needs of the family – yours, the children’s, and those of your spouse. Success is measured by the degree to which the final resolution meets the realistic needs of all family members. Ultimately, a resolution is reached by acknowledging the legitimate needs of each party. As your attorney, counselor, and advocate, my responsibility is to ensure you make informed decisions with knowledge of the law, emotional awareness, and financial understanding.
The guiding principle of an interest-based negotiation is a healthy, mutually beneficial transition for the family, not just a deal that is unlikely to be longstanding. Amicable negotiations recognize that there are more disciplines other than the law that matter in the complexity of dissolving a marriage and reorganizing the family for the future. Your goals are within reach, and your substantive, emotional, social, and process interests will be key to attaining them. Stay tuned for an upcoming post where we’ll explore these interests in greater detail.
The initial objective that you and your spouse should prioritize is to recognize that through the negotiation process, you can and will get “there.” In situations where making decisions becomes challenging, having effective problem-solving and negotiation abilities is vital to reaching a mutual agreement. It is essential for both partners to communicate openly and honestly, expressing their opinions and concerns without criticism or prejudice. Rather than engaging in personal attacks, our focus should be on accomplishing the task at hand. I welcome the opportunity to talk with you as you take the initial steps of the divorce process.
Please call our office at (973) 921-0009 to schedule a time to talk.