Suggestions for Effective Negotiations In The Collaborative Divorce Process

The collaborative divorce process works best if, at the start of the process, all participants, including the divorcing couple and their lawyers, give each other permission to comment tactfully and constructively when the following suggestions for effective negotiations are not being applied:

  1. View your “ex” as a vital problem-solving colleague in collaborative negotiations.
  2. Be constructive. Always focus on achieving goals that are consistent with your interests and principles. Act in ways that you believe could help reach a solution.
  3. Take responsibility for your feelings and do not allow your feelings to dictate your actions.
  4. Avoid using inflammatory language and gestures. Critical speech, blame, the use of sarcastic inflections and accusatory looks, can all cause a spiral of unproductive conversation.
  5. Only make “I” statements. “I” statements express your own underlying concerns or feelings; they do not describe your partner or his/her actions.
  6. The collaborative process is completely voluntary. That means the parties are free to terminate the process at any time. The awareness that they have the right to stop at any time gives both parties the freedom to consider all options without feeling coerced or trapped.
  7. Be creative. Attempt to think “outside of the box.” “Brainstorm” potential options and develop as many choices as possible. Gather more information, and then reconsider your original ideas.
  8. Remember that both you and your spouse are going through a difficult transition. Sometimes the difficulties are greater for one person than the other. Be respectful of the difficulties your spouse experiences in making the transition. Consider the possibility that each of you is doing the best that you can.
  9. Collaboration does not imply an absence of conflict. Consider conflict as an opportunity to be creative. Collaborative Law provides an opportunity to approach potential conflict with a constructive, solution-oriented attitude.
  10. Listen carefully to your partner. It is very important that you try to understand what matters to your partner, and why. True collaboration implies that everyone in the process will attempt to find resolutions that encompass as much as possible of what is important to each of you.
  11. Be optimistic! While there is no guarantee that the collaborative process will be effortless or without difficulty, a mutually acceptable result is possible with diligence and effort.

Source: Pauline Tesler, Collaborative Legal Practice Institute, Mill Valley, California