You and your spouse may be getting a divorce — but that doesn’t mean you have to be adversaries during the process. In fact, negotiation can often help fractured couples make their divorces more successful than their marriages ever were.

If you want to know how to negotiate effectively with your spouse during your divorce, here’s where you should start:

  • Understand the law. You can’t negotiate from a position of strength unless you understand the rules regarding child custody, support obligations and the division of assets.
  • Be conscious of your finances. You need to understand exactly what debts and assets you have before you start trying to divide them. Otherwise, you may sound unreasonable.
  • Know your wants and needs. These are two different things. Knowing your needs can help you define the limits of your willingness to compromise and understand where you should focus most of your energies. Your wants are always negotiable.
  • Understand your spouse’s wants and needs. At the outset of negotiations, do more listening than talking so that you can clearly understand what your spouse feels like they need to have — and what they merely hope to accomplish.
  • Be willing to look at alternatives. You may have a very definite picture in mind of what custody or the financial split should look like — but don’t get stuck on it. Listen to all the alternatives because you could be overlooking a workable option.
  • Keep your emotions under control. The business of divorce should be approached just that way — as if it were a business deal. Put aside all of the old conflicts and unprocessed emotions for the duration.

Sometimes it’s just too hard to do divorce negotiations on your own — and that’s fine. An experienced divorce attorney can help you avoid as much conflict as possible.