Divorcing couples are more likely to reach a mutually amicable settlement if they agree in advance to set some “house rules” to govern their negotiation sessions.
Here are some examples that can help:
Agree that no more than one person is allowed to get angry at any given time. If things get too heated, take a 20-minute break. Allow either party to call an instant time-out that must be honored no matter what, even in mid-sentence with no last words thrown in.
The party speaking has the floor, and no interruptions are allowed as long as that person is still speaking. If there is silence, then the other party may ask for permission to speak. No one should ever ask “Are you through?” or “Is it my turn?”
Neither party will judge the other’s position as wrong but will keep the door open until both sides have had a chance to explain their positions. If either party commits an act that brings pain or hurt to the other, the hurt party will not place blame or automatically assume that the pain or hurt is intentional.
The parties agree in advance that, if either side walks out of a negotiation meeting, they will meet at the same time on the next day to resume their discussions. No matter how abruptly a session ends, the parties will not deem such an ending to be final; instead, they simply meet the next day and pick up where they left off.