BATNA in Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

The black words "BATNA & Divorce with the gold Freed Marcroft Family Law logo in the lower right hand corner on a white background with a blue border.“BATNA” stands for “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.”  We owe credit for the BATNA concept to the classic negotiation book Getting to Yes — and it’s an extremely useful concept when deciding whether to settle your divorce.

Read on to learn more.

Why BATNA Is Important in Divorce Negotiation

Knowing your BATNA is important both because it will help you determine whether to accept a settlement proposal and increase your confidence.

Remember, whether to settle is your decision alone, not your lawyer’s.  We are here to provide you with information and advice — including as you determine your BATNA — to support you as you make these critical decisions.

Read: Settlement & Divorce

How to Come Up With Your BATNA

When negotiating with your spouse to settle, it’s essential to consider what you’ll do if you can’t agree.  Your options won’t always be obvious, but that’s okay.  If they aren’t, you can get creative and develop them yourself.  Getting to Yes explains the three steps to take to build your BATNA.

  • First, come up with a list of things you could do if you can’t agree.
  • Second, look at that list and see if any realistic options could work. (Your divorce lawyer can help you understand what’s realistic.) Improve on those ideas and make them into practical alternatives.
  • Finally, pick the best option out of those alternatives. That’s your BATNA.

Knowing your BATNA will help you analyze settlement proposals and decide whether to reach an agreement.  It will also give you more confidence during negotiations.

BATNA Examples in Divorce and Family Law

The most common BATNA options in divorce and family law are probably litigating the issue.  In other words, the best alternative to settling is commonly going to a hearing and letting a judge decide.  Sometimes, taking the issue off the table is another possible BATNA — for example, withdrawing the motion or divorce.


When divorce and family law clients decide their BATNA, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement is often continuing to litigation.  In other words, your lawyer presents your case according to the formal rules of the court, and the judge decides.  In considering this possible BATNA versus settling, you will want to consider the following:

  1. Likelihood: How likely is the outcome you seek at settlement versus trial?
  2. Time: How long are you willing to wait for a resolution?
  3. Control: How much control over decision-making are you willing to give up?
  4. Stress: How much uncertainty or stress are you willing to accept?
  5. Money: How much are you willing to invest in pursuing the outcome you seek?

Read: When Reality Doesn’t Match Up With Your Vision

Read: Don’t Mistake Truth for Weakness: It’s Strength

Withdrawing the Motion or Divorce

In some cases, withdrawing may be an option for you to consider for your BATNA.  It would be best if you discussed this with your attorney, as your lawyer can explain some potential pros and cons to help you decide.  For example, even if you are the plaintiff and you want to withdraw your divorce, if your spouse has a counterclaim for divorce, your withdrawal will have no practical effect, and your divorce will continue.

What If I Don’t Want My BATNA?

Just because something is the best alternative to a negotiated agreement doesn’t mean that it’s the right decision for you.  The right decision for you might just be entering into a settlement agreement.  If that’s the case, work with your lawyer for advice and strategy to get as close to your ultimate goal as possible in negotiations, and then resolve your case out of court.

Next Steps

For more information about Connecticut divorce and family law, check out our Divorce Information and Facts. Also, if you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you with your divorce or Post Judgment issue, please contact us here.


Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC