Divorce Mediation - The Orange: A Parable About Interest-Based Negotiation

By Robin Masson on Jun 01, 2017 in Divorce Mediation

Nick and Nora were separating and couldn’t agree upon who should get the orange. Since there was only one orange, it appeared that the “fair” solution (and the one most likely to be imposed if they were in court) would be for them to slice it in half, and each would get half an orange.

But that wasn’t totally satisfactory to either of them. Might an interest-based approach might yield a better result?

Nora was asked, “Why do you want this orange? What’s important about this orange to you?”

Nora replied, “I am making muffins, and I need the orange rind.”

Nick was asked, “Why do you want this orange? What’s important about this orange to you?"

Nick replied, “I’m thirsty, I want some juice.”

Now, it appeared that there was a way to get each of the parties more of what was important to them: Nora could have an entire orange’s worth of rind, while Nick could have an entire orange’s worth of juice. Each would have two times as much of what was important to them than he or she would have received under the traditional “fair” way of dividing assets.

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