A negotiated divorce is handled much the same way a business deal would be handled. Each party has his or her own attorney. The attorneys consult with their clients, advise them as to the law and their options and take direction from the clients. The attorneys do most of the negotiation but the clients have the option to speak with each other to resolve certain issues if they choose. The parties may want to schedule meetings where they meet together with their attorneys.
Advantages of a Negotiated Divorce
The parties don't necessarily need to negotiate for themselves. Each has his or her own advocates and advisors. Some people like having someone on their side, someone who can personally and legally support them through the process. Provided the attorneys have a non-adversarial mindset (which is key), this method can have many of the advantages of mediation -- relatively low-stress, efficient, allowing the parties to make their own decisions and reach an acceptable result.
Things to Watch
A negotiated divorce is usually a bit more costly than a mediated one. The parties each need to each hire their own attorney, instead of just one mediator. An attorney in a negotiated divorce generally charges by the hour and is not limited to an hour or two-hour mediation session. If money is a factor, the parties need to be aware of and manage what their attorneys are doing.
The biggest potential pitfall to a negotiated divorce is if one or both of the negotiating attorneys has a litigation mindset. Keep in mind that litigation is far more profitable to an attorney than a negotiation. As they say, if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If someone has made a living at litigation, it is tempting to see tough negotiations as opportunities to litigate. They may not have the patience or inclination to do what it takes to get a deal done without resorting to the court system. If you want to avoid litigation, it's probably best to select a "mediation friendly" attorney to negotiate for you. We can help you select one.