Tips & News - DIY Divorce Settlement Negotiations – Why not? Twelve questions to consider (Part Two)

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In this Part Two of our article “DIY DIVORCE SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS – WHY NOT? TWELVE QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER” we outline some further questions that you might want to consider when deciding whether or not to enter into DIY Divorce negotiations with your ex.

6.    Are actions more appropriate than words?

Remember the old saying “Actions are more powerful than words”.  Perhaps you should consider whether if you change your behaviour (yes your behaviour) you may change up the relationship or break an otherwise negative cycle.

For example, if you support your kids to call their mother every night, would she feel more inclined to allow you more time with your kids?  Or by being flexible with time of exchange, would he follow suit by also being  more flexible?

7.    Is this the right time to have the conversation? 

Are your emotions so overwhelming or urgent such that you need to have some time out to process your initial (and generally more fleeting) reaction from your more enduring feelings?   Do your physical reactions to this situation (eg anger, grief) mean that you need to have some “time out” in order to ensure your approach is strategic and well considered rather than impulsive and reactive?

8.    Is this the right place to have the conversation? 

For example:

  • Will you feel safer if you meet in a public place or another safe place (eg café, local library, home)?  If you meet with a third person (eg mediator or psychologist)? If you are concerned about your safety after you have this conversation, have you told someone where you will meet your ex at a specified time following the meeting?
  • Will you feel better if the conversation is held, not at the table, but on the couch where you are more relaxed and then able to talk about our feeling and emotions more freely? Or if you are concerned that you will be emotionally overwhelmed by the conversation, is it better to meet in a more “commercial” type setting or a public place to set some boundaries for yourself?

9.    Have you planned an appropriate exit strategy if the conversation becomes too heated? 

And does that exit strategy include an offer of another way forward (for example, “I don’t think we are getting anywhere with this conversation.  I would like to try to resolve things with you and am happy to meet next week when we have both had time to reflect.  Alternatively, I am happy to send you my proposal for you consider by the end of the weekend.”).

10.    Have you prepared for the conversation as best as you can?

Have you thought about all of your interests and alternatives and options?  And those of your ex?

Have you obtained any additional information (for example, family law advice or financial planning advice) that you may need? We recommend that all of our clients obtain legal advice as early as possible as the legal implications of your (or your ex’s) decisions or actions may not always be obvious.  It is also, of course, important for you to understand “your bottom line” when negotiating, which is what your lawyer can help you to understand.

It is our view that in order to be ready for your meeting, you can never ever over prepare.

In summary:

  • Prepare by obtaining all the information that you need including legal advice and perhaps also financial planning or tax advice.
  • Prepare by working out your opening questions and your general themes/ key messages.
  • Prepare by considering what your ex might say (or not say) or do to trigger you.  What hot buttons might you press in them – and do you want to press those buttons?
  • Prepare by practicing – role play can be a great insight into how you may react to certain questions or how you may put certain interests on the table.

11.    If you plan an agenda will you feel safer or more centred to have the discussion?

And if so, should you invite your former partner to provide input into the agenda before the meeting?

12.    Have you thought about how you will self-soothe (calm yourself down)?

If you become upset, or are verbally or emotionally attacked by your ex during such negotiations – what will you do?

If you do not wish to walk away from the conversation, how will you look after yourself so you can keep your emotions appropriately under control (at least for the rest of the conversation)?

If you need or want to leave, have you set up the meeting so that both you and they understand the next steps to resolving your issues (eg communicating in a different way, seeing a mediator, or by going through your lawyers)?


DIY Divorce negotiations are never easy but they do have many advantages if you have prepared for them properly.  With the right advice and a clear strategy, they can be a cheaper, more efficient and less vitriolic alternative to a court battle.  We hope that we have provided you some tips that will help you start to prepare effectively for such a conversation.



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