If you want to negotiate your child support or custody agreement, the best outcome is always a negotiation reflected in a Separation Agreement. You don’t want a Judge deciding issues for you regarding your children. And, your best chance for agreement is to know how to effectively negotiate with your spouse. Be prepared for reasonable compromise. If you insist upon standing on principle, be prepared to pay your lawyer for it.
To get you started on the right negotiating path you should do as much research as possible. You can find information online and there are also books on these issues, like “Separating from Your Spouse 101″. That way, you’ll know what you’re talking about and how to talk to get to a fair agreement.
For now, take note of these 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Negotiating:
1. Thinking logic will prevail. Negotiating is about human behaviour and emotion (especially when it’s about your children). You need to be able to navigate through both your emotions and your spouse’s.
2. Taking a “No” personally. When you your spouse says “No” to your proposal, don’t take it as a personal rejection. Look at it as an invitation to keep talking.
3. Withholding information. Give your spouse all the information and documents needed to prepare for your negotiations. You want your meeting to be of value and without proper information about income and child-related expenses; your spouse will not be able to make a decision.
4. Talking too much. You should be doing the asking, not the answering. Ask your spouse open-ended questions to identify their concerns. The 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) are the type of questions that work best. The more you learn about your spouse’s concerns, the better you will be able to address them during your negotiation.
5. Not having a goal. You’ve heard this before. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? You also better know why you’re going to wherever you’re going. If you’re going to the grocery store and your goal is to get food, then you’re going to the right place. If you’re going to the bank and you want food, you better re-examine the “where” or the “why” otherwise you’re going to be one hungry individual. Have a goal and a reason for the goal before you start negotiating.
Making the decision to separate from your spouse (especially when children are involved) involves a lot of moving variables. If you are able to negotiate a mutual and amicable arrangement with your ex, the next step will be putting it in writing. For more information about how to negotiate your child support payments and custody agreement in Ontario…or anywhere visit www.myontariodivorce.com or www.separatingfromyourspouse.com.
Robert Berman B.C.L, LL.B
Founder & Family Law Lawyer