When divorcing couples use an online divorce service to manage their divorce without the help of lawyers, they sometimes ask: “We’ve got some tough issues to settle, but we don’t want to make it worse by bringing in lawyers to argue. How do we get started?” It’s an excellent question—and fortunately, there are some good precedents from everyday life that divorcing couples can follow: Athletic coaches conduct warm-up drills, parents encourage baby steps, teachers start with the basics, and negotiators log roll.
In other words, start small, build momentum.
To understand the concept of logrolling, consider this example from international diplomacy. When disputing countries begin talks aimed at reducing tensions, they often start with agreements that are simple and low risk, such as arranging for their artists to work together or for their medical professionals to train one another in specialized services—relatively low-risk exchanges requiring minor, non-threatening concessions. By doing so, they get the log rolling; that is, building positive momentum before tackling the tough issues to come.
These experienced diplomats understand that an effective way to build the conditions necessary to resolve complicated issues is, to begin with, less important ones that will yield easily to compromise. Doing so injects optimism into the negotiation, sets precedents for future compromises, and builds trust.
So how can couples who are using an online divorce service logroll their way to settling disagreements?
Consider the problems of deciding how custody of the children will be divided over the summer break or how responsibility for paying off credit card debt will be shared, even in uncontested divorces. Such issues can be difficult to resolve when a divorcing couple feels strongly about what’s at stake and anticipates having to wring tough concessions from one another to get what each wants. To build positive momentum, it helps couples in this situation to settle less complicated issues before tackling the tough ones. For example, a divorcing couple with young children might first decide who will bring drinks to the next soccer game, agree upon a good time to have the next parent-teacher conference, and arrange for one parent to take the children to the next dentist appointment. A couple with difficult financial issues to resolve might start with less complicated ones, such as setting a date for a garage sale or dividing up the kitchen utensils. Making several such mutual concessions at the start, no matter how simple or risk-free, gets the log rolling: fostering optimism and a spirit of compromise that will carry over to the tougher discussions yet to come.