Saturday, October 4, 2008

Another View of How to End an Impasse

One of the consistently best family law blogs is the Maryland Divorce Legal Crier by James J. Gross. A few days ago, he had a post about the same subject I recently discussed. Here's his take on impasse.

"What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? A lawyer makes a settlement proposal for a divorce client. The other side sends back a counterproposal, which the client doesn’t like.

'What do you advise next?' asks the client.
'Send back another proposal with some concessions,' the lawyer says.
'What if I don’t want to make any concessions?'
'Then you are at an

There are several ways to break an impasse.

(1) Litigation. The ultimate way is to have a judge decide. But this is expensive, time consuming and uncertain in outcome.

(2) Keep Talking. Explore other options to meet the needs of each party. I have been in negotiations where a creative idea just seems to fall out on the table in the conversation that had not been there before.

(3) Segment the Problem. Break the dispute down into separate smaller pieces and try to get agreements on one piece at a time until you have solved the whole problem.

(4) Bring in an Expert. You can bring in an expert to help break an impasse such as a therapist for issues involving children or a financial planner for issues involving money.

(5) Do Nothing. One option is to just do nothing until somebody blinks. Sometimes I have told the parties, 'You are twenty thousand dollars apart and it will cost you each ten thousand dollars to litigate this case. Does anyone have any ideas?' Then I sit in silence for a minute, two minutes, sometimes ten minutes, until finally someone says, 'Well I’ll split the difference if you will.'"

These are some good ideas, at least 2-5 are. The first idea of using litigation isn't a possibility in a Collaborative case. I have used all of the techniques at different times and they usually help resolve the issues in dispute. There are bound to be some other successful strategies for breaking out of an impasse. Does anyone want to share their ideas?

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