A divorce attorney once told me that if both parties wind up not feeling satisfied with how the assets were split, then he knew it was fair. When one party is happy, that person probably came away with a bigger piece of the pie.
The key to divorce negotiations—and the subsequent outcome—is to temper your expectations. Do not go to the table anticipating receiving exactly what you want, but rather, be willing to compromise for what is most precious to you.
My lawyer stated that many clients could easily divide thousands of dollars in investments, yet nearly come to blows over household goods. Some former couples engage in battle over personal property, not realizing that action prolongs their proceedings. The adage “pick your battles” aptly applies to this situation.
Feelings such as sentimentality are attached to material items in ways they are not with money. Sort through your emotions to determine if it is the object itself, or the memory it represents, which is causing you to quarrel over it.
I wanted the watercolor portrait of our cat, which I had commissioned. I anticipated that my husband would choose this purely out of spite. I pointed out several other pieces that were more expensive, and would bring him more cash. He took those. The fact that I was willing to give up more, made it easier for him to back down and let me have the few that I really desired.
When my husband saw that I was not going to fight over things, he ended up taking less. As in a chess game, anticipate the opponent’s moves and use strategy. Sacrifice your queen (what you do not crave) to save the king (the main items wanted).
By asking for less personal property, you may end up with what is most meaningful for you. My divorce mantra was lyrics from a Rolling Stone’s song: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.
In amicable divorces, possessions can be split in friendlier ways. Flip a coin to see who goes first. Whoever won the coin toss chooses the first item, and then each person takes a turn to request what he/she would like.
Another method is when each party has a color sticker. Both spouses go around the house and put a sticker on those possessions they want in their new life. The few pieces that have both stickers on them can be traded or negotiated. A few divorced couples stated that they did not do the personal property split in a lawyer’s office; instead, this part of the process was achieved over lunch or at a coffee shop, in a relaxing, neutral environment.
Divorce is an excellent opportunity to pare down your worldly goods and live with what you truly love.
I had no interest in our wedding china and crystal. When my spouse noticed that, they were assigned to me. I was surprised at how much I got for them on eBay, and used the proceeds for a vacation.
Do an inventory of your needs and where you are in life. Do you have small children? Then perhaps staying in the marital home may be more advantageous. Are you over 50? Then give up other things to ensure a solid retirement package.
I took more in cash, which helped me to pay off the mortgage on my house that I bought during the divorce. Now I am wondering if taking more of our pension plan would have been a better option. I looked at what was immediately in front of me instead of the big picture.
If feeling stuck when focusing on the emotional aspect of dividing up property, consider having a session with a life coach. They can help you with this task. If overwhelmed by the financial issues, it can be beneficial to hire your own financial consultant. They can look over the investments. real estate, and pension plans to advise you what to go after in your situation. If you require more time to think things over, then let your attorney know.
Divorce is a short time span in your life. What assets you receive through negotiations can affect you for a much longer period.