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How to negotiate a fair divorce financial settlement

divorce financial settlement

Negotiating a divorce financial settlement is never easy. But it is certainly a preferable and more cost-effective option to a Judge who knows nothing about your life and circumstances deciding your financial future.

Working with your spouse or partner means you have more control of the outcome. The most productive negotiations involve open communication, compromise, and a willingness to work towards a fair agreement.

A fair divorce financial settlement is one that considers the unique circumstances of each couple’s life together. The essential elements of a fair divorce financial settlement include:

Transparency: Both parties should be honest and transparent about their financial situation, including income, assets, and debts.

Putting the children first: The welfare, needs and well-being of any children involved should be a top priority when negotiating a financial settlement.

Flexibility: A fair settlement should be flexible and consider each party’s future financial situation and needs.

Fairness: The settlement should be fair to both parties, with neither spouse or partner being disadvantaged.

Our tips to help with negotiating a divorce financial settlement are as follows:

Do your homework

Preparation is key to negotiation success. The more information you have, the stronger you will be in the negotiation.

If you don’t know how the divorce process works, now is the time to find out. If you don’t understand the “ins and outs” of your financial situation – get a financial adviser to advise you.

By understanding better what is going on in your divorce and the process – you can make better informed decisions.

Don’t make assumptions

The key to a successful negotiation is recognising the other party’s needs, values, hopes and fears. Try to put yourself in their shoes so you can understand why those goals are important to them. Try to be understanding of each other’s feelings.

Focus on effective communication

Communication can make or break negotiations. Effective communication is about expressing yourself clearly, but also listening to and understanding the other person. When negotiating a divorce financial settlement, use plain non-emotive language.

Set some ground rules

Before negotiations commence, agree that both sides will show each other respect and be polite and courteous. You may also agree the ground rules of what will happen if discussions become heated such as taking “time outs”.

Avoid Hard Bargaining

Hard bargaining is the equivalent of drawing your line in the sand regarding the divorce negotiations. This approach can lead to the breakdown of the negotiation and divorce settlement. Preserving a solid relationship with the other side is always preferable.

A far better way to start out your divorce negotiations is to focus on the interests you are attempting to satisfy. Think of goals and interests and what you already agree on.

For some decisions in your divorce, it makes sense to think at first in terms of goals, interests, and concerns. Thinking in terms of goals and interests can help start negotiations in a positive manner.

You may find that you and your spouse share similar goals or interests so you can work together to meet the goals. Once you and your spouse are clear on these, you can start to talk more about specifics about how to meet those goals.

Be Willing to Compromise

A successful negotiation involves compromise from both parties.

Focus on the problem, not the person

In almost every divorce there is at least some level of emotion tied to the relationship. Even if both parties want the divorce, there can be feelings of regret, failure, sadness. In other divorces, those emotions could be anger, bitterness, and even more intense emotions. If you want to reach a fair negotiated divorce financial settlement possible, focus on the issues, rather than the other person or the emotions.

Be clear on what you want but be flexible

Have clarity but accept you won’t get everything. Work out what you need. Think about what this leaves your partner with – successful divorce negotiations should work for you both. Brainstorm or generate ideas and options before becoming too narrowly focused on one thing or becoming entrenched in your respective positions.

Get creative!

Think outside the box while trying to reach an agreement.

Don’t rush.

Negotiations take time, especially if you want them to go smoothly. Don’t be afraid to take “time outs” in times of conflict so everyone can regain perspective and heated emotions can subdue.

Don’t take things personally and take control of your emotions.

It can be easy to let your emotions get the better of you during a negotiation. But getting too emotional will hurt the negotiations. It is important to control your emotions throughout the divorce negotiation process. When emotions drive a negotiation, neither side is going to get far.

Don’t walk away if you get a ‘no’

If your spouse or partner rejects your proposal, get more information as to why the proposal is being rejected. A ‘no’ is not the end of a negotiation. It is the moment to ask follow-up questions and explore all the options.

Understand That “Winning” Isn’t Everything

If you go into a negotiation like it is a game or battle – where there’s a “winner” and a “loser” – it will be difficult to find compromise or an agreement.
Skilled negotiators will always consider other alternatives to the options you have already considered.

Always look for a win-win solution

Don’t only focus on your own interests. This is a self-limiting approach and will blind you to a wide range of options. Go beyond adversarial positioning and consider what the other side needs. Work with them to create a solution that satisfies both of your interests.

A win-win does not mean giving in to the other side; it means finding ways for both sides to get what they really need from the agreement and walk away satisfied.


If you are going through a divorce, dissolution or separation and would like to seek expert legal advice and assistance regarding the division of assets or a divorce financial settlement, please visit our services pages for details of how we can help you. We also offer a free call to discuss your case which can be booked here.

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Here is a helpful video on tips for successful negotiations.
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