New York couples who are heading into the property division phase of their breakup may decide to negotiate through a settlement meeting. Couples who are considering negotiation should know what the process looks like: You will be meeting with your spouse in the same room, working to conclude your divorce by keeping major problems out of the courtroom. Most people who decide to negotiate do not want to pursue litigation, perhaps because it is more time-consuming or expensive. Experts say that couples pursuing this option should take a few steps to guarantee appropriate division of marital property, such as retirement accounts, business assets and artwork.

Realize that emotions do not have a place in property division negotiation. It is best to approach these meetings as business transactions. Do not use them as an excuse to reveal your feelings about the pain you have suffered during your marriage. A divorce negotiation is designed to help you move on into the next phase of your life, dealing exclusively with legal issues. Items with sentimental value may elicit emotional reactions, but keep your feelings confined to your assets, not your spouse’s behavior.

Negotiation-based divorce generally is less time-consuming, but participants should not be pressured to rush through the settlement. Ask questions, take time to consider proposals and pay attention to the details; after all, these decisions will directly impact your future. Family attorneys can be great resources throughout the negotiation process, providing you with the legal assistance you need to make the best personal decisions.

The most successful New York negotiators know that compromise is the key to success. Negotiated divorce almost guarantees that both people will sacrifice some assets while retaining other key holdings. Spouses need to advocate for their own rights, but they should also be willing to consider the other side’s rationale for their request. Be courteous and flexible for the best result.

Source:, “Divorce confidential: How to prepare for a settlement meeting” Caroline Choi, Oct. 31, 2013