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Families Change Guide to Separation & Divorce

5.15 - Communication & Negotiation

5.15 - Communication & Negotiation

It is important to consider communication and informal negotiation skills. Informal negotiation means to work on your agreement with your former partner without the help of a third party.

You might be able to informally negotiate practical agreements regarding the best interests of your children with your former partner. But if you are feeling pressured or intimidated by the other parent, you may have to get help from a family justice counsellor, or counsellor in private practice before negotiating informally.

You might be able to informally negotiate practical agreements regarding the best interests of your children with your former partner. But if you are feeling pressured or intimidated by the other parent, you may have to get help.

If you are going to try an informal negotiation here are some guidelines you might want to think about.

  • Gather information and facts in advance of the meeting; be clear about child-related issues that you want to discuss.
  • Meet in a neutral place where you can talk without interruption.
  • Agree on rules that enable you to talk respectfully. Provide examples of rules.
  • Be clear about what you want to negotiate
  • Start sentences with “I”, not “you”
  • Seek the point of view of other parent
  • Avoid discussing past faults and problems
  • Stay focused on topic
  • Use “I” statements similar to the ones used by children in the video you watched in Session 3 called “I” Statements.
  • Listen carefully to the other parent, ask for clarification and try to understand the other’s perspective. Make it clear that you’ve heard and understand.
  • Discuss creative solutions; suggest—but do not demand—your own solutions.
  • Seek agreement on a solution and make an action plan together. Agree to disagree, if necessary, and decide how you want to deal with that.
  • Determine if you need to meet again to review how the agreement is working.
  • Offer positive comments at the end of the meeting to reflect good will towards the other parent about the outcome of the meeting.

 The PAS Handbook provides a list of “pitfalls” so that you can avoid making those mistakes while negotiating. Use the negotiation tips you have just learned and avoid these pitfalls when you and your former partner finalize your Parenting Plan. Once you have reviewed the list and your Parenting Plan, you can move on to watch another brief video presentation.