A good mediator, and in my opinion, the best divorce lawyers help the parties look for resolutions that provide each party with the things that are most important to each of them.  In other words, how can both parties “win,” rather than having one party end up the “winner” and the other a “loser”?

The classic example of a win-win negotiation is the “orange story,” which goes like this:

Two teenage siblings are fighting over an orange—each of them desiring to be the “winner” of the orange.  Hoping to put an end to the fight, the children’s mother cuts the orange in half, giving each teenager half an orange.  In a sense, both kids are winners, as each has ended up with half an orange.

Seems fair, doesn’t it?  But what if the mother spent more time trying to understand why each of her children wanted the orange?  Perhaps she would find out that one them wanted the orange for the juice and the other wanted the orange for its peel to make some potpourri.  Then the win-win solution would be obvious:  the mother would peel the orange and give one teen the orange peel and the rest to the other. The result:  each child wins; each gets 100 percent of what they wanted in the first place.

Let’s apply the orange story to a divorce, where both parties want the house.  If the divorce mediator or the divorce attorneys dig a little deeper to understand why each party wants the house, they might learn the following: Wife never really liked the house and thinks it’s bigger than she really needs.  She imagines herself packing up all her belongings, dealing with all the clutter, and going through all the hassle involved with moving.  If her husband gets the house, she’ll have to deal with all these things on her own, and given the emotional strain of the divorce, she just can’t imagine where she’d find the energy.

Here’s where a good mediator, or two creative attorneys, can assist by turning to some basic problem-solving that might work for both parties:  What services are available to help people purge their clutter before they move?  Perhaps the parties can agree to set aside funds to pay for such a service. Can Wife work with a realtor to find a smaller house that she likes better than the one she never liked to begin with?  How can the parties allocate their resources to make it possible for Husband to remain in the marital residence and Wife to purchase her new home?

Finding win-win solutions through problem-solving rather than fighting (lose-lose) is the key to an amicable divorce.  Divorce is not about winning; it’s about cutting your losses and moving on with your life.

 

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