We all need something from others– truly, not a single person I have encountered over the last four decades operates as an island. But the key question to keep in mind when asking for something is this: how big is your ask? The bigger the favor, the more prepared you need to be to get a “no.”

As a divorce lawyer, here are 3 big asks I often have to deal with:

1. Alimony- asking someone to help their ex meet his/her expenses is a big ask, especially if you are seeking indefinite (aka “lifetime”) alimony.

2. Custody- when someone says they want “sole” or “primary” custody, that person has to be prepared to answer the inevitable: why is that appropriate?

3. Property- often one spouse just wants to keep the house or his/her retirement. While there may be several emotionally compelling reasons for these positions, in court we need to present logical reasons to justify each and every request.

Even outside of court, it seems every day people keep arguing about the same two things: time and money. Both are limited resources, and we do not all share the same priorities. Especially as families get re-configured, you have to understand and accept that new obligations may be created that will impact someone’s ability to contribute time or money to your cause, whatever that may be. But if you really want to boost your chances of success, try to remember your please and thank yous. Word choice matters a lot, and people are far more receptive to requests versus demands.

Unfortunately, no matter how nice or accommodating you may be, not everyone is capable of putting themselves in another person’s shoes, and they can only see things from their own perspective. It is almost impossible to work/try to reason with someone that lacks the capacity to have empathy for others. In these scenarios you just have to remind yourself that it is about them, not you. So, just pick your battles and learn when to walk away.

Before your next big ask, take a moment to consider how big is the ask, and how would you feel if you were the other person? The bigger the ask, the more you need to prepare yourself for a “no” and have a back up plan, this way the sting of rejection won’t hurt as much and if you happen to get a “yes” then you will just be pleasantly surprised.

 

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.