Poker Face: The Art of Negotiating with your Husband During Divorce

Posted on Nov 14, 2012 by Hofheimer Family Law

If you’re negotiating a separation agreement with your husband, the two of you are no longer on the same team. You need to accept that your goals are no longer aligned, and you can’t fall into the trap of thinking of him as a confidante.

A great deal of the art of negotiating a separation agreement lies in your poker face. In many areas, like child support, what the law will give you is perfectly clear—but in others, like spousal support, there is room for negotiating. You’ll have to make a case for why you deserve what you’re asking for. For your attorney, that often means that he or she will have to discuss your position with the other attorney. For your part, that means that you’ll have to keep quiet, and not give away critical points to your husband.

Attorney-client conversations often center on case strategy. What do you want, and how do we achieve that goal together? If that doesn’t work, then what’s next? What’s Plan A and Plan B? You can probably imagine that it’s a bad idea to disclose Plan B when what you’d really like is Plan A.

You can give away information to your husband in ways that you might not expect. If you confide in a mutual friend, he or she may unwittingly pass information on to your husband. Even talking to family can sometimes be difficult, and you can’t assume that they won’t accidentally spill the beans to the wrong person. Let’s be real here: the more people who know about your divorce, what specifically you’ve said to your attorney, and what your plans are, the more people exist who are able to tell your hubby what’s up. The more your hubby knows, the more likely it is that he can call your bluff or push you to your limits.

It’s good to maintain a cordial relationship with your husband during your divorce, particularly if you have children. There’s a delicate balance, though, between being friendly to make your lives run more smoothly and being so friendly that you give away things you ought not give away. It’s great if you’re able to keep the lines of communication open, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your relationship can go on the same way it did when you were married. When you’re in the midst of a divorce, there are details that you can’t share. You should remember that the two of you are on opposing sides. That doesn’t mean that you and your husband are enemies. In most cases, divorces can proceed amicably. But that doesn’t mean that the two of you are BFF.

Be strong, and keep your plans regarding the divorce to yourself.