I don’t usually read Hollywood gossip stories but this headline from USA Today, “Kate Walsh, ex to divide assets by flipping a coin” caught my attention.
Why? Because it illustrates what you can do when you just can’t find an objective standard like market value, precedent or an expert’s opinion that everyone agrees will result in a “fair and reasonable” result. If instead the parties in a negotiation can agree on a process they believe will lead to a better result than their best Plan Bs, a deal can often get done. Here, the divorce settlement reads, “One-half of the community property furniture and artwork to be divided by alternating picks after the flip of a coin to determine who will pick first.” Sounds fair, right?
In addition to flipping a coin and/or taking turns, here are three other examples of fair, independent procedures that parties sometimes use to resolve disputes:
- One cuts, the other chooses
- Draw lots
- Use an independent third party such as an arbitrator or mediator