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Should you and your spouse negotiate on your own?

During a divorce, many soon-to-be ex-spouses try to save money and time by negotiating with each other. In a few cases, it works. Many times, though, this move turns into a giant headache and worsens the situation. For one thing, you could make an offer that is not exactly legal or give up much more than you think you have to.

If you are thinking about negotiating on your own, consider the following few things.

The level of emotion involved

If you are perceived to have done something to cause the divorce such as involvement with someone else or spending too much time at work, you might be feeling guilty. Negotiating on your own could lead to you giving up a lot more in divorce than you would have otherwise. This might be OK if you can still stand on your own financially after the process is over. However, many people cannot, so divorces need to be as fair as possible to both people.

Negotiating through mediators or lawyers also involves a somewhat disinterested third party who will not allow overly one-sided results.

Your level of knowledge

Do you know the ins and outs of your finances and your spouse's? How about the legal obligations and responsibilities both of you have regarding any children? What are your needs and priorities in the divorce? There are many issues to consider, and if you negotiate on your own, you risk bringing incomplete or erroneous information to the table. In some cases, a lawyer or judge might even look at your agreement and say that it needs a do-over.

Your ability to negotiate

Some people are born to negotiate while others seem born to bully or to give in. Judges know this, which is why they may look more favorably upon a divorce agreement that involved a third party. This way, there is a reduced chance of an unfair agreement.

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