Friday, September 1, 2017

Why Negotiating Outside the Meetings is a Bad Idea

Some people will always be tempted to try to negotiate parts of their settlement outside the Collaborative meetings.  Sometimes, both parties want to do it, but most often it's just one of the parties who tries to engage their spouse in talks.

These are people who have been unable to agree on things, often having heated arguments over all kinds of issues. Typically, they have tried negotiating before they hired lawyers. 

Why do they do it?
  • Save time.
  • Save money by cutting out attorney's fees or professionals' fees.
  • They think they understand or know more now and the issues are simple.
  • Someone is frustrated with the Collaborative process because it doesn't move at super speed.
  • Someone wants to control the process, the other party or the outcome, or all of them.
 Why is it a bad idea?

Although it's not always a bad idea, more often than not, problems arise, such as:
  • People going through divorces often don't behave as well together when the attorneys and other professionals are not around. Even when there have been productive meetings and discussions in the process, when the professionals are not around the parties often revert to their old ways of communicating and interpreting what the other is saying and doing.
  • It may lead to more arguments and hurt feelings, especially if only one of the parties wants to negotiate.
  •  Short-cuts often lead to harmful or bad decisions.  The parties may lack information. One or both parties could lack experience in negotiating important matters.  One side often feels pressured which makes them uncomfortable.
  • It could even derail the process if the parties get really mad or get into serious disagreements. 
What should you do if you are tempted to try to work out some agreements privately?
  •  Just say NO!  Blame it on your attorney or the other professionals, if you want to, but it's better to avoid it.  
  • If this is just a simple matter, it won't take long to handle it at a meeting, so there's no harm and little cost involved.
  • Re-direct attention.  Change the subject.  Get your spouse to discuss something different that he or she is interested in and then leave or end the conversation. 
  • Put off your spouse by suggesting you need to do some homework on it, which you should do anyway and then go talk with your attorney about it before you negotiate.
  • Don't get into a long talk with your spouse about whether it's a good idea. You may end up getting mad or getting talked into something you don't want to do.
Best Advice:  Talk to your attorney first, whether you are thinking of initiating it or if your spouse suggests it.  Maybe it can work, but please listen to your attorney.