Negotiating Family Law Issues When Emotions Are Involved

Separation and divorce are difficult and stressful. Today, we give you our tips for resolving your family law matter during this emotional time.

Hi I’m Daphna Schwartz of Feldstein Family Law Group. Separation and divorce are difficult and stressful. Your emotions are probably in over-drive. I’m going to give you some tips to help you handle your emotions but still keep your matter moving forward, especially during settlement meetings.

When couples decide to separate, emotions often run high. Whether you are feeling angry, hurt, sad, confused, or any other emotion, it is important to remember that it is normal and healthy to have these feelings. If you or your children are feeling depressed, anxious, or just want someone to talk to, contacting a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or a social worker, is a good idea. Depending on the coverage that you have, your health benefits might cover some or all of the costs of therapy. If you have children, do not confide in them about feelings of anger or frustration about their other parent as this can have serious negative effects on your children.

Although it is important to remember that it is okay to be upset about separation, it is also important to remember that the emotions you are feeling will likely have little or nothing to do with the resolution of your family law matter. This means that you should talk about your emotions with your friends or psychologist, and focus on the issues in dispute during legal negotiations. Sometimes, it is important to convey your feelings if it gets you reaching a settlement. Oftentimes, one partner needs to tell the other how hurt they are in order to move on. Anger in a negotiation such as a four-way settlement meeting will be unproductive, but a civilized discussion with the help of both lawyers may prove beneficial in resolving the issues.

If you are planning to have a four-way settlement meeting, which in most cases is a good idea, discuss the following with your lawyer:

Do you want your lawyer to do most of the talking?

During negotiations, there are often issues that can be resolved between the lawyers, without you and your former partner speaking directly with each other. If the lawyers address the issues, you do not have to worry about you or your former partner saying something that will only cause upset and distract from the resolution of the issues.

Agendas and lists

Before negotiations begin, make a list with your lawyer of all the issues that you want to address during negotiations and your legal position on each issue. This list should help you keep focussed on the legal issues and not on your emotions. The meeting agenda should be sent to the other lawyer at which time they may add to it. At the meeting the parties should attempt to complete as many items on the agenda starting with the most important issue and moving down the list in order of importance.

What if you are apprehensive about sitting at the same boardroom table as your spouse?

If you feel that you or your former partner cannot be in the same room and remain civil towards each other, lawyers can “shuttle negotiations”, which means that during negotiations, the former partners remain in separate rooms, while the lawyers “shuttle” back and forth between meeting with their clients and with each other. Not the best option, but still allows for settlement.

Know what is reasonable

Often, your lawyer can advise you about the likely or reasonable outcomes of the issues in dispute.

What if you have a question?

Do not be afraid to ask. You need to feel comfortable asking your lawyer either in advance of a negotiation or during, any question that comes to your mind. We do not want you to feel like you could not ask a question and then are upset afterwards that you did not. We are here to advocate for you and answer your questions.

Get your emotions out there, deal with them, reach settlement, and then move on…the next chapter of your life awaits you….

If you would like to learn more about other family law issues, you can visit our website. If you would like legal advice about your own situation, please call us at (905) 581-7222 for a consultation.

Thank you for watching.

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