Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why You Might Want Help in Negotiations

"Do it yourself" is a time-honored tradition for many things. Home improvements or repairs come to mind -- a good idea for a handyman, but not such a good idea for others, like me, without the talent and experience to know what to do or how to do it for projects above the basic level. On the other hand, there are lots of books and videos about how to do things without hiring expert help.

The "do it yourself" spirit has invaded the legal field, encouraged by forms, videos, web sites, blogs, e books and other books. There are also some non-lawyer services that provide help. Many people are willing to take on their own legal matters and it works out well for some of them. For others, there can be significant problems. How do you decide whether to step up and negotiate your own case? Here are some considerations.

1. Do you have the full information? Do you know what you need to know and how to get it? Most people don't, and it can be difficult sometimes, even for experienced lawyers. If you have all the needed information, you may not need help. If you are unprepared on the information, your result will suffer.

2. Is there equal information for both sides? Often, one party in a marriage tends to monopolize the information on all the financial issues or the children's matters. The other party can negotiate effectively only if he or she gets access to all the information.

3. Is there equal bargaining ability? Does one party have more experience or ability in bargaining? Sometimes one party does negotiations at work or has received special training in negotiations and that may give that party an unfair advantage. (It could be you or your spouse!)

4. Is there a power imbalance? If one party always seems to dominate the other, the submissive party is not going to do well in negotiations. Even with a mediator or some other facilitator, one spouse can easily intimidate the other prior to the negotiation sessions.

5. Is there equal motivation for both parties? If one spouse is more motivated than the other, the unmotivated one may get run over.

6. Has there been adequate preparation? One party may be pushing strongly to wrap everything up quickly, while the other may not be ready for a long time. The motivated one may have been preparing for a long time, emotionally and otherwise, and the other spouse may need more time to prepare. Without enough prep time, the negotiations are not going to go well.

7. Is there trust between the parties? There are different levels of trust, but a complete absence of trust and goodwill may doom any negotiations.

Bottom Line: If there are imbalances in the relation of the parties, the dominant one will very likely have a significant advantage in negotiations if the parties try to reach an agreement without using attorneys. Don't allow your spouse to pressure you into agreeing to negotiate if any of the problems above are present. Instead, talk to a lawyer and get some professional help. Attorneys have several methods
, including Collaborative Law, available to resolve conflicts.

Other posts have explained the benefits of Collaborative Law. Look into it before deciding to negotiate for yourself. Collaborative Law addresses these issues by cooperatively gathering, sharing and analyzing information. The process involves professionals as neutrals who work for both parties and the attorneys. Any imbalances are leveled out by the professionals so that each party can work to achieve their goals and meet their needs.

You may be making your most important financial, family and legal decisions, and it's not a time to be cheap. Your future is on the line!

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