Interest-Based Negotiation: The Key to Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce lawyering requires the skills of an attorney accomplished in interest-based negotiation. Traditional litigation negotiation is positional, in which the parties are adversaries fighting to win at all costs; by comparison, the collaborative approach looks for solutions that do not make for a zero-sum outcome.  Between traditional litigation and collaborative negotiation is a Grand Canyon of difference.

In interest-based negotiation, the key to the negotiation is to reach an outcome that meets everyone’s interests.  An attorney must take time to understand not only his or her client’s interests but also the other spouse’s interests.

Thus, the good outcome should be the best possible way to meet all parties’ interests.  Every option on the table increases the likelihood that the parties will reach the best option.

The good outcome should seem better than all other alternatives. Before reaching an agreement, both sides should know what the alternative would be if no agreement is reached.  In a collaborative case, that option is the uncertainty of litigation, which is traditionally winner-take-all.

Some advantages of collaborative divorce to take into consideration:

  • External objective standards help both sides believe that the outcome is legitimate.
  • Effective communication leads to both an efficient and beneficial outcomes.  This involves both listening to the other side and properly educating them about his or her interests.
  • At the end of the negotiations, the relationship between the spouses may actually be improved.

The quality of an outcome is measured by the quality of the promises that are made, and both parties making good on their agreements.


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